Global consumer giants Kraft Heinz and Unilever have come under fire for advertising on the world's massively popular porno website, Pornhub.
Both companies launched huge advertising campaigns on Pornhub in the last year.
Unilever, which makes Dove soap, Marmite and Hellmann's mayonnaise, ran a campaign for it's grooming company Dollar Shave Club which sends members razors in the post. It joked that Pornhub viewers won't need to visit the site so often if the use
the advertiser's grooming products.
The company reportedly spends roughly £6billion a year on marketing and Dollar Shave Club's creative director, Matt Knapp, said the company chose to advertise on the porn site because it has guys backs'.
Yesterday Unilever vowed it would never advertise on the site again after miserable PC campaigners questioned the company.
Meanwhile spokesman for Kraft Heinz played down the significance of its activity on Pornhub, but did not explicitly say it would not advertise on the site again. He said:
The Devour frozen-food brand, which is only sold in the US, had a one-day promotion solely as part of the brand's Super Bowl activation. The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram.
Pornhub has 110million daily visits and is the most popular pornography site in the UK. It is surely an attractive site for advertisers who are targeting campaigns toward men.
A marketing email from Boohoo, received on 15 July 2019, featured the subject heading Send Nudes. The body of the email contained a photo of a female model wearing a beige jacket with the words Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues
written across the image.
A complainant challenged whether the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible.
Boohoo.com UK Ltd said that their use of the word nude was solely to describe the colour resembling that of the wearer's skin. They said they targeted their customers by sending them the latest fashion trends, including the trend for nude
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the term nude was commonly described to refer to colours that were similar to some people's skin tones. At the same time, the phrase send nudes was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos,
which could be a form of sexual harassment. We noted that increased pressure to share such photos had been linked to negative outcomes for young people. Boohoo's target market was aged 16 to 24. We noted that the ad had only been sent to those
who self-declared that they were over 18, but online age was often misreported, and we had not been provided with details of any further steps Boohoo had taken to reduce the likelihood of under-18s being targeted with the ad. Given the general
price point of Boohoo's clothing and the age of the target market, there was also likely to be some overlap with even younger teenagers who aspired to looks associated with a slightly older age group. While the ad played on a well-known phrase to
highlight a fashion trend, we considered the specific reference chosen had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend. Furthermore, in the subject heading of an email, without any further context, the phrase send nudes was
likely to be disconcerting for some recipients, particularly those who might have personal experience of being asked to send nudes.
In the context of an ad aimed at a relatively young audience who were more likely to be harmfully affected by pressure to share sexual images of themselves, we considered that the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible and breached
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Boohoo.com UK Ltd to ensure their ads were socially responsible.
A TV ad for the Volkswagen eGolf, seen on 14 June 2019, opened with a shot of a woman and a man in a tent. The woman was asleep and the man switched off the light and closed the tent, which was shown to be fixed to a sheer cliff face. The
following scene depicted two male astronauts floating in a space ship. Text stated When we learn to adapt. The next scene showed a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump. Text stated we can achieve anything. The final scene
showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram. A Volkswagen eGolf passed by quietly. The woman was shown looking up from her book. Text stated The Golf is electric. The 100% electric eGolf. Issue
Three complainants, who believed that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role, challenged whether it breached the Code.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The first scene of the ad showed both a man and a woman in a tent, panning out to show that it was fixed to the side of a cliff and therefore implying that they had both climbed up the steep rock face. However, the woman was shown sleeping, by
contrast with the man in the scene. Furthermore, due to the short duration of the shot and its focus on the movement of the man, it was likely that many viewers would not pick up on the fact that it featured a woman, as was the case with the
The ad then showed two male astronauts carrying out tasks in space and a male para-athlete doing the long jump. We considered that viewers would be likely to see the activities depicted as extraordinary and adventurous -- scientific and
career-based in the case of the astronauts and physical in the case of the athlete. That impression was reinforced by the claim When we learn to adapt, we can achieve anything. While we noted that a third astronaut appeared in the
background, the image was very brief and not prominent. We considered that many viewers would not notice the presence of a third person, and if they did, the image was insufficiently clear to distinguish their gender.
The first two scenes both more prominently featured male characters. While the majority of the ad was focussed on a theme of adapting to difficult circumstances and achievement, the final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench and reading, with
a pram by her side. We acknowledged that becoming a parent was a life changing experience that required significant adaptation, but taking care of children was a role that was stereotypically associated with women.
In context, the final scene (the only one that featured the product) gave the impression that the scenario had been used to illustrate the adaptation and resulting characteristic of the car -- so quiet that it did not wake the baby or register
with the mother -- rather than as a further representation of achievement, particularly as the setting was relatively mundane compared to the other scenarios.
Taking into account the overall impression of the ad, we considered that viewers were likely to focus on the occupations of the characters featured in the ad and observe a direct contrast between how the male and female characters were depicted.
By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male
and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.
We concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Volkswagen Group UK Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm, including by directly contrasting male and female
roles and characteristics in a way that implied they were uniquely associated with one gender.
Offsite Comment: Stereotypically Stupid: The ASA's Latest Slice Of Lunacy