South African broadcasters e.tv and DStv have withdrawn a new Nando's commercial following refusal by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The SABC has refused to air the advertisement, citing xenophobic undertones .
The commercial opens with foreign nationals illegally crossing the South African border, followed by a voice-over that says: You know what's wrong with South Africa? It's all you foreigners.
It then shows foreign nationals including Chinese, Indians and even Afrikaners disappearing in puffs of smoke. Finally, the only person left is a traditional Khoisan man who says he's not going anywhere.
Fast food chain Nando's, which is known for its controversial marketing campaigns, said it was shocked at the decision and planned to ask the broadcasters to reconsider. It argued that the advertisement depicted South Africa's rich ethnic and cultural
diversity and was meant to show the absurdity of xenophobia.
The commercial was initially aired both on e.tv and across DStv channels, and is still available on social network websites.
Thabang Ramogase, marketing manager at Nando's, said after being informed that e.tv and DStv had banned the ad:
We think it is short-sighted and we stand by the advertisement. The responses the ad has generated online have been overwhelmingly positive and show that South Africans get the message.
Chris Hitchings, media sales CEO at DStv, said the pay-TV broadcaster was concerned that the advertisement could be misunderstood:
While we understand that the commercial is a parody, we are not convinced that all our viewers will interpret it in the way intended, he said. We have a responsibility not to broadcast material that could be deemed offensive to our viewers and we have
exercised our rights in this regard.
Leon Grobler, dispute resolutions manager at the ASA, South Africa's advert censor, said the organisation had received a handful of complaints about the advertisement. Its review will take about a month.
Update: South African ASA rejects whinges about the Nando's advert
Pay-TV broadcaster DStv has lifted its ban on fast-food chain Nando's new advertisement that broadcasters initially refused to air due to its xenophobic undertones.
The commercial had been banned by both DStv and e.tv after they initially aired it earlier this month, days after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) rejected it on the grounds that it could be misinterpreted and perpetuate xenophobia and
Satellite television network TopTV, however, said that it would air the controversial advertisement. Its decision came after the Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) dismissed complaints it received from viewers and ruled that the advertisement
did not contravene any of its codes.
The ASA Directorate is satisfied that this advert falls within the parameters of hyperbole and/or harmless parody as allowed for by a clause in the code. This clause states that Obvious untruths, harmless parody or exaggerations, intended to catch the
eye or amuse, are permissible provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous ... This is also in line with the respondent's reputation for poking fun at topical issues and current affairs.
What's more, the commercial is clearly contrasting the voice of xenophobia (who starts the commercial off with mention that ... all you foreigners should just ... go back to where you came from ), with the voice of reason ,
who explains that REAL South Africans (our emphasis) love diversity. This carries the implied message that the initial voice of xenophobia does not speak for Real South Africans.
In addition to this, if one views the entire commercial, it becomes apparent that the xenophobic voice and opinion is ridiculed and made to be irrational, because the point is made that all nationalities found here (save for the Khoisan) were once foreigners
Put simply, the respondent juxtaposes the xenophobic view that what's wrong with South Africa is all you foreigners with the rational and reasonable view that what's wrong with South Africa is actually all you xenophobes .
This is done in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and the ending voice-over explains that REAL South Africans love diversity .
For the above reasons, the Directorate is satisfied that the commercial does not contravene the provisions of the Code. The complaints are accordingly dismissed.
An Irn-Bru ad featuring a baby called Fanny has provoked a few whingers from TV viewers.
The Advertising Standards Authority have received 24 complaints about the advert since it was first screened at half-time during the last England match at Euro 2012.
The ad features a proud dad visiting his partner and new baby daughter in hospital...only to be stunned when she tells him the baby will be called Fanny.
The new dad is shown relying on his can of Irn-Bru to get him through as he listens mother-in-law say: Aw, Fanny, you're just like yer daddy and Mum's a Fanny, Granny was a Fanny, she'll be joining a long line of Fannys .
It has had more than one million hits on YouTube and is the fourth in the series of new Irn-Bru Gets You Through' ads.
Nutters claim the allusion to the slang use of fanny is offensive but this miserable attitude seems limited to a few Twitter users.
A spokesman for AG Barr defended their advert, saying it had been approved for broadcast by Clearcast, who ensure that ads comply with the rules.
ASA looking beleaguered in trying to apply its vague and inadequate code to the internet
17th June 2012
For years ASA has been arbitrating on adverts produced by advertising agencies who also fund the advert censors anyway. It has been a cosy little relationship where all the players have got a stake in the system.
Then suddenly ASA extended their remit to the internet, where those being censored aren't quite so attached to the system of ASA and its vague gentlemen's rules. And suddenly those under ASA duress are fighting back, and asking questions, like exactly
where in law does it say that slightly sexy pictures are banned? Of course the answer is nowhere, only in ASA's made up codes based on the kings clothes created by years of working with pliant advertising agencies.
Of course the rules are bit clearer when the ASA stick to investigating misleading adverts etc. Then criminals laws such as fraud underpin the advertising code. But the ASA seems to have strayed into arbitrating on matters of political correctness,
politics and religion. And they seem to have neglected to explain how their rules in these cases tie into law.
It is not even clear if the ASA have a clear definition of an advert. As Archbishop Cranmer found out, what exactly makes an internet link to a political petition into an advert?
And the latest example is where the ASA have withdrawn its censorship demands for internet content on a religious website. The site was claiming that its god can somehow heal people through prayer or magic or something. The ASA were no doubt right that
such claims are bollox, but its seem to have forgotten that it is an advert censor not a censor of website content.
Its about time for the ASA to recast its guidelines, provide proper definitions, anchor them to the law of the land, and generally make them fit for purpose.
Back in February 2012. The ASA censored a group called Healing on the Streets - Bath. They wrote:
A website and a leaflet, for Healing on the Streets - Bath, viewed on 10 May 2011:
a. The website home page stated Our vision is to :- Promote Christian Healing as a daily life style for every believer, through demonstration, training and equipping. We are working in unity, from numerous churches outside the four walls of the
building, In order to :- - Heal the sick ... .
A page headed What people have told us afterwards ... included five testimonials in which people stated that after receiving prayer their conditions had been improved.
b. The leaflet was available for download on the website under the heading Download a healing flyer by clicking below . The leaflet stated NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers,
Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness? We'd love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe
that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness . Issue
A complainant challenged whether:
the claim in ad (b) that the advertiser could heal the named conditions was misleading and could be substantiated;
the testimonials in ad (a) misleadingly implied that the advertiser could heal the conditions referred to; and
the ads were irresponsible, because they provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions.
The ASA challenged whether the ads could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to
medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
Now the ASA have just updated the decision acknowledging that it has no remit to censor the webpage. The ASA has limited its censure to just the group's flyer.
The ASA have updated the adjudication to delete the references to the website:
A leaflet stated NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness? We'd
love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christians from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness . The leaflet was viewed on 10 May 2011. Issue
The complainant challenged whether:
the claim that the advertiser could heal the named conditions was misleading and could be substantiated; and
the ad was irresponsible, because it provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions.
The ASA challenged whether the ads could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to
medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
Healing on the Streets (HOTS) have explained the background to the ASA change of heart:
We are grateful to the ASA's Independent Reviewer and the ASA Council for reviewing and amending this decision, and confirming that there was a fundamental flaw in the original assessment of the complaint about our website.
The ASA has now confirmed that our website is not within its remit because the statements made on it reflects our beliefs and relate to a cause or idea - the website explains our belief that God can heal and provides information about prayer offered by
our volunteers and therefore the ASA has confirmed that nothing on the website is in breach of the advertising regulations.
The ASA still considered that leaflets handed out could be in breach of the advertising regulations, however we changed the leaflets several months ago to reflect the concerns which the ASA had previously expressed.
The ASA is due to re-publish the adjudication confirming its views on the leaflets, but the revised adjudication does not apply to what is on our website, meaning we can continue to express our beliefs that God can and does heal, as well as providing
information and testimonies explaining all about Healing on the Streets.
HOTS Bath will continue to fulfill its commitment to demonstrate the love of God through healing of body, mind and spirit on the streets of Bath and elsewhere.
Comment: So how come ASA thought they could censor websites?
By admitting that ruling against the website was outside their remit, the ASA has unfortunately demonstrated their own lack of judgement in regards to the original decision. Given that their role is to make sure that companies and organisation stick to
advertising legislation, it is distinctly worrying that they have shown a lack of understanding of the very legislation they seek to uphold. Their conduct unfortunately undermines their reputation and vindicates the levels of frustration expressed by
those supporting the work of HOTS which has included MPs and major Christian organisations.
A new Lynx advert entitled Clean Your Balls has wound up the nutters in Australia.
The three-minute commercial, based on a US version that aired 18 months ago, features Australian pop singer and actress Sophie Monk taking on the appearance of a TV host selling the benefits of a new product, the Lynx buffer.
Balls... no one wants to play with them when they're dirty, she starts. That's why you have to keep your balls clean. Monk then proceeds to show how the new scrubber can do just that by cleaning a succession of sports balls, including small balls
(golf), hairy balls (tennis) and a big ball sack (football).
But not everyone sees the funny side of the double entendre. Collective Shout, a nutter group that campaigns against the sexualisation of advertising, has put in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Melinda Tankard Reist, co-founder of Collective Shout said that objectifying women in these hyper-sexualised scenes is actually harmful, adding: They contribute to an ongoing second-class status of women.
Tankard Reist called Lynx, the male grooming brand owned by Unilever, repeat corporate offenders over their sexualised advertising.
Upmarket fashion store, Harvey Nichols has prompted a few tweets for a supposedly disgusting mailshot ad campaign that depicts a woman wetting herself.
Harvey Nichols said:
We developed the campaign to promote our summer sale and capture the excitement in a light-hearted, humorous way.
During the production of the campaign, we researched the use of this expression in popular culture and social media and were satisfied that is is both commonplace and invariably used in a playful, inoffensive manner, which was in-keeping with the
tongue-in-cheek spirit in which we intended our campaign to be taken.
The flyers show a woman with her clothes soaked around the groin area next to the slogan: The Harvey Nichols Sale.. Try To Contain Your Excitement.
A few people wrote a few uninteresting tweets to criticise the campaign, and it was enough for telegraph to report the 'outrage'.
A series of TV and video-on- demand ads featuring a ghost-like little girl prompted complaints that they were offensive, irresponsible, unduly distressing and inappropriately scheduled at a time when children might see them. Although we recognised the
ads might cause some unease, we considered a post-7.30 pm restriction was appropriate.
Littlewoods Home Shopping
585 complaints – not upheld
This online and broadcast ad generated a range of complaints including that it implied Father Christmas didn't exist and was sexist because it suggested mum bought all the presents. After careful consideration, we judged that there was nothing in the ad
that broke the rules.
260 complaints – not upheld
This TV ad for sofas depicted three female models posing and dancing in lingerie. We appreciated that some viewers might have found the images distasteful and gratuitous, but we considered the ad not to be problematic
Lynx 2012 Deoderant
214 complaints – not upheld
In a TV ad parody of the story of Noah's Ark, a man attracted a hoard of women to his boat by spraying himself with deodorant. Viewers complained that the end of the world theme upset children mocked the Christian faith and was demeaning to women.
We accepted the ad didn't appeal to everyone, but it contained nothing explicit that would cause harm or serious or widespread offence.
Travel Palestine 149 complaints – upheld in part
Complainants challenged whether a magazine ad promoting tourist sites in Palestine was misleading because it suggested Palestine was a recognised country and suggested areas, including Jerusalem, were in Palestinian- administered territory. We told the
advertiser not to suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when that was not the case.
126 complaints – not upheld|
This TV ad for condoms sparked complaints that it was inappropriate to appear before the watershed and was unsuitable to be seen by children. Because the ad was scheduled away from when young children might be watching and did not contain any graphic
images or content, the ad did not breach the Code.
Lynx Shower Soap
115 complaints – upheld in part
A poster featured a woman under an outdoor shower wearing bikini bottoms and clasping an undone bikini top against her breasts. We considered that, alongside the strap line the cleaner you are the dirtier you get , the ad was likely to cause
offence and was unsuitable to be seen by children.
Phones 4 U
98 complaints – upheld
A national press ad for miraculous deals on mobile phones featured a cartoon illustration of Jesus Christ grinning broadly and winking. Because the ad was published during Easter, we considered it was disrespectful to the Christian faith and
likely to cause serious offence.
The Money Advice Service
80 complaints – not upheld
Complainants objected that a TV ad and website for financial products and services were misleading. We concluded that the advertiser's claims about its advice service and that it was set up by Government had been substantiated.
Phones 4 U
79 complaints – not upheld
Viewers considered a TV ad featuring a man being chased through the woods by a zombie to be offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children. We thought the post-7.30 pm restriction was sufficient to ensure it was unlikely to be seen by young children
watching television alone.
This TV ad showed call centre workers singing with their mouths full. Many objected it could encourage bad manners amongst children. Although not to everyone' taste, we thought it was unlikely to change children's behaviour or undermine parental
Auction World (2004)
1,360 complaints – licence revoked.
Shopping channel Auctionworld's consistently poor customer service, misleading guide prices and delays in delivery of goods resulted in a flurry of complaints, which we passed to Ofcom who issued a fine and revoked their licence to broadcast.
Paddy Power Bookies (2010)
1,313 complaints – not upheld
Viewers complained that the image of a cat being kicked across a pitch by a blind football player was offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. We judged the ad was unlikely to encourage or condone cruelty to animals or cause serious
or widespread offence.
The Christian Party (2009)
1,204 complaints – not upheld
Complainants objected that the strap line There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life was offensive to atheists and couldn't be substantiated. Political party ads are out of our remit, but even if it had been in
remit we wouldn't have banned it because it was clearly a statement of opinion, rather than fact.
British Safety Council (1995)
1,192 complaints – upheld
This leaflet featured the Pope wearing a hard hat with the strap line The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt always wear a condom . Although intended to raise awareness for National Condom Week and promote safer sex, we agreed with complainants that
it was offensive to Roman Catholics
Marie Stopes International (2010)
1,088 complaints – not upheld
A TV ad offering sexual and reproductive healthcare advice, information and services attracted complaints for various reasons, including that it promoted abortion. We felt it was clearly promoting an advice service and wasn't advocating one course of
action over another, nor trivialising unplanned pregnancy.
1,070 complaints – upheld in part
The ASA upheld, in part, against this ad campaign that depicted an engineer fighting multiple versions of himself. We ruled that the level of violence in two of the ads meant they should only be shown after 9 pm.
Opium Perfume (2000)
948 complaints – upheld
We agreed with complaints that a poster ad for Opium perfume featuring a naked Sophie Dahl was sexually suggestive and, in an untargeted medium, likely to cause serious or widespread offence. But we didn't uphold a small number of complaints about the
same ad in women's magazines.
Department of Energy and Climate Change (2010)
939 complaints – upheld in part
We received objections that this TV and press campaign about climate change was misleading and scaremongering. We didn't agree with the majority of the objections, but did uphold complaints about claims in some of the press ads for exaggerating the
likelihood and impact of extreme weather conditions.
840 complaints – not upheld
Designed to raise awareness of domestic child abuse, this TV campaign featured repeated scenes of violence and drug-taking, which many viewers found upsetting and not suitable for broadcast at times when children were likely to be watching. We did not
doubt the distress or offence described by many of the complainants. However, we considered the ads were scheduled appropriately and their aim justified the use of strong imagery.
The Advert Censors at ASA have asked London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) about the restrictions on adverts referencing the London Olympics.
ASA : What top tips can you give marketers planning ad campaigns around the Olympics on how to avoid breaching LOCOG rules?
LOCOG : Our legal rights are very wide and therefore any Olympic themed campaign is likely to infringe them -- even if it doesn't refer explicitly to the Games. If a business is looking to undertake a marketing campaign which capitalises on
the Games we would ask them to consider the ethics of doing so.
To understand the scope of our rights, we would recommend businesses look at the faqs and documents available at www.london2012.com/brandprotection.
ASA : What are the common pitfalls that non-Olympic-partner advertisers run into?
LOCOG : Some businesses think that if they don't use any of our logos or refer explicitly to the Games, this won't infringe our rights. However, the London Olympics Association Right is drafted widely so that any representation which creates an
association between a business or brand with the Games (subject to certain defences) infringes the right.
Swedish fashion store H&M has apologised over a swimwear campaign featuring a deeply tanned model that sparked 'outrage' among cancer groups.
The company said in an email sent to AFP:
We are sorry if we have upset anyone with our latest swimwear campaign. It was not our intention to show off a specific ideal or to encourage dangerous behaviour, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection.
H&M's apology came after the Swedish Cancer Society and others criticised advertisements featuring Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana wearing brightly-coloured swimwear accentuated by a dark-brown tan. The campaigners said:
The clothing giant is creating, not least among young people, a beauty ideal that is deadly.
Every year, more people die in Sweden of (skin cancer) than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning.
Regardless of how the H&M model got her tan, through sunning or a computer programme, the effect is the same: H&M tells us we should be very tan on the beach.
It is sad to write this, but H&M will through its latest advertising campaign not only sell more bathing suits but also contribute to more people dying from skin cancer.
The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen RO) received seven complaints against the campaign, saying that it was sexist and discriminatory, that the model was too thin and that she was sporting an unhealthy tan.
The advert censor ultimately ruled that the campaign was neither sexist nor did it promote an unhealthy and skinny ideal body image.
However, the body did rap H&M for using a model that was too tanned.
It is widely known that an exaggerated exposure of the skin to radiation to the sun is bad and can lead to skin cancer. The advertisement shows an ideal through the model's extremely tanned skin, which would be harmful to try to achieve, the
censor wrote in a statement.
The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against the Equippers Church in Hawke's Bay, saying it breached three rules and one basic principle of the code of ethics.
A poster outside the church proclaimed that Jesus Heals Cancer.
In its deliberation, the authority noted duplicate complainants held similar views while others expressed concerns that the claim made in the billboard could not be substantiated and the billboard may influence some cancer sufferers into stopping
conventional medical treatment .
The Equippers Church told the ASA it did not mean to cause offence with its billboard, which it later amended, saying its claims were:
a message of hope and life in Jesus Christ. Our belief is substantiated by the fact six people within our congregation have testified to Jesus healing them from cancer.
The church also felt it could make its claims through freedom of speech and freedom of religion, as allowed under the Bill of Rights Act.
After some media coverage, it also claimed overwhelming support for its billboard, but decided to change the wording, removing Cancer but still spouting bullshit: Jesus Heals Every Sickness & Every Disease - Matthew 4:23 .
A Dutch TV advert which warns women not to let their men travel to Ukraine for Euro 2012 because of the promiscuous women has triggered a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
The commercial for a beer dispense made by NLEnergie urges wives and girlfriends to keep your men at home during this summer's football tournament.
It shows how typing only the letters ukr into internet search engine immediately brings up the result Ukrainian women . The web page is then filled with scores of images of scantily clad Ukrainian models.
Ukraine's ambassador to Amsterdam Olexander Horin said he was shocked at the image the advert gave of his country. He said:
I am asking the company to withdraw this advert immediately.
It is offensive to both the Ukrainians and the Dutch, and sends out the wrong message to people in both in both countries.
NLEnergie boss Harald Swinkels said:
It is just a bit of fun that plays on the cliches and Ukraine's reaction is disproportionate.
I shouldn't for a moment think it will stop any Dutch men from travelling to Ukraine to support their national team, and I will be explaining this to the Ukrainian ambassador when I meet him.
Kermit has run afoul of Germany's TV censors at ZAK who found Kermit guilty of illegal product placement in an appearance last year on commercial network Pro7.
The channel used the frog to present its Disney Day of programming. But Kermit also mentioned the theatrical release of Disney's The Muppets . Because the promo was not marked on screen as an ad, Pro7 violated German media law, which bans product
placement unless clearly identified as such. Pro7 has admitted the error.
ZAK has also ruled against pay TV group Sky Deutschland for showing ads of sports betting site bwin during its broadcasts of German league soccer matches. Sky had apparently violated the German ban on gambling ads on television. Sky has also argued that
the gambling ban does not apply to on air references to bwin.
So more extremely expensive PC bureaucracy that suffocates European industry. Not only does someone have to pay for the mindless censors, the TV companies have to waste money employing compliancy officers and the like to try and avoid censure.
And then when little Johnny is so expensively protected from hearing the word 'fuck' or a plug the Muppets or the latest odds from Ladbrokes, he will likely come across any of these in his next 5 minutes of experiences in the 'real' world anyway.
A judge declares a Christian radio ad to be political and hence correctly banned.
The proposed 30-second advert for Premier Christian Radio called on listeners to report their experiences of being marginalised in the workplace. It was blocked by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC), because it was directed to a political
London Christian Radio Ltd, which runs Premier, a national station, won a judicial review to challenge the ruling, describing the advert as about the most inoffensive proposed ad one could hope to get .
James Dingemans QC argued that if the advert was in breach of the 2003 Communications Act, which banned political advertising, then the relevant sections of the Act should be declared incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.
However, Mr Justice Silber, sitting in London, ruled that Article 10 had not been breached and that the RACC decision was both rational and lawful . He declared the ad to be political as it was intended to obtain information in a bid to try to
make changes to society .
Peter Kerridge, chief executive of London Christian Radio and the Premier media group, described the ruling as wholly reminiscent of a totalitarian state and said an application would be made to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, intervened to prevent a Christian advertising campaign from promoting the idea that gay people can be converted to heterosexuality.
The advert was due to say: Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!
A few days before the ads were due to appear on buses Johnson ordered his transport chiefs to pull the adverts booked by two Anglican groups following 'outrage' among gay campaigners and politicians saying that they were homophobic. Johnson said:
London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our
The adverts were booked on behalf of the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davidson, claims homoerotic behaviour is sinful . His charity funds reparative therapy for gay Christians, which it claims can develop their
heterosexual potential . The campaign was also backed by Anglican Mainstream , a worldwide Anglican group.
The Christian groups insisted the advert had been cleared with Transport for London (TfL). Davidson said:
I didn't realise censorship was in place. We went through the correct channels and we were encouraged by the bus company to go through their procedures. They okayed it and now it has been pulled.
CBS Outdoor, the media company that sells the bus advertising sites, said the ad had been passed for display by the Committee of Advertising Practice.
The campaign was an explicit attempt to hit back at the gay rights group Stonewall, which as part of its lobbying for the extension of marriage to gay couples is running its own bus adverts saying: Some people are gay. Get over it. The Christian
groups used the same black, red and white colour scheme as Stonewall and in a statement announcing the campaign accused it of promoting the false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are born gay .
Update: Asserting the right of freedom of expression to badmouth gays
A Christian group which had its advertisement pulled from London buses after it was described as anti-gay has said it is considering legal action.
TfL had said the advert was not consistent with its commitment to a tolerant city.
Anglican Mainstream has instructed a law firm to look at whether Transport for London (TfL) acted illegally when it scrapped the adverts. It said it wanted to know what happened to its contract with TfL for the ads, which implied people could be ex-gay
Tom Ellis from legal firm Aughton Ainsworth said he was going to examine whether the ban was a breach of contract and the group's right to freedom of expression.
The banning of silly Christian bus adverts reveals the contempt in which the mayor holds ordinary Londoners.
Last week, Boris Johnson, the perennially silly mayor of London, announced that he would ban a planned series of posters on London buses which shouted: NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT! The message was penned by the Christian
campaign group, the Core Issues Trust, which believes that homosexuality is curable through therapy and religious teaching.
Boris Johnson has said that he feared that there would have been an intense backlash if he had allowed a Christian advertising campaign promoting the idea that gay people can be converted to heterosexuality to be plastered on London's buses.
He talked about his decision to censor the posters as he took part in a mayoral debate jointly organised by London Church Leaders, Faith to Engage, and the Evangelical Alliance.
He said that he made his decision not only because he thought an advert which suggested that gay people could be cured was likely to cause great offence , but also because of the possible reverberations for London's Christian community. Hesaid:
The job of mayor is to unite, the job is to stop prejudice, and actually the backlash would be so intense it would not have been in the interest of Christian people in this city.
Ken Livingstone told the audience that the advert would only have served to reinforce prejudice:
KFC Thailand has apologisesd for a Facebook Gaffe during the recent tsunami warning.
While millions of people evacuated the Indian Ocean coastline for higher ground, KFC Thailand suggested that they rush home and order a bucket of chicken.
According to the Associated Press, in an inopportune moment KFC posted on its Facebook page:
Let's hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don't forget to order your favorite KFC menu.
By the time tsunami warnings subsided, hundreds of people began lambasting the company on Thai web pages, prompting the immediate removal of the message. An apology replaced the post, asking for forgiveness for the error.
A billboard which links death with eating meat has been criticised by the National Obesity Forum (NOF).
The advert from animal rights campaigners, Peta, shows a coffin-shaped pie and asks the question Not ready to meat your maker? . It also recommends veganism in the fight against obesity.
Tam Fry, from the NOF, said the advert was laughable and an attempt to make a point out of others' misfortune. He said it was ridiculous that Gloucester had been targeted because the city was one of the less obese areas in the country:
We want to do all we can to lessen obesity but I do not think it appropriate at all to draw attention to it in this manner.
Yvonne Taylor, from Peta, said the billboard was deigned to highlight a link between meat pies and pasties and obesity and other ailments:
The best thing that coffin dodgers can do for their health and to help animals is to go vegan.
A magazine ad for Triuk bicycle frames, seen in Cycling Plus , stated It all starts with great bodywork and featured an image of a bicycle frame and a naked woman. The woman held one arm up over behind her head, while the other covered her
breasts. The text TRIUK covered her from the navel down.
A complainant, who believed that the image was sexist and degrading to women, challenged whether it was offensive.
Triuk said, whilst they were concerned that someone had found their ad offensive, they believed that the ad was not degrading or sexist in any way. They said the ad was a piece of artwork with a friendly tongue-in-cheek caption and had intended to be
eye-catching and show the aesthetic features of the bicycle frame. They also said, because 45,000 issues of the magazine that contained the ad had been sent out and Cycling Plus had not received any complaints, and because the use of the female form in
the cycling industry was commonplace, they believed that the ad was acceptable.
Cycling Plus said their magazine was read predominantly by men in their 30s to 50s and did not believe that the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA noted the ad featured an image of a naked woman and that, although the image was not sexually explicit, it had sexual connotations. We also noted that it bore no relevance to the advertised product and that the text It all starts with great
bodywork likened the aesthetic qualities of the woman to those of the product. We therefore considered that, in this context, the image was likely to cause serious offence to some readers of Cycling Plus and concluded that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
A radio ad, for Budweiser beer, heard in December 2011, included a male character, who gave a motivational-style speech during which other male characters cheered. He stated ... gentlemen, there is nothing special about tonight ... tonight is
underrated. Tonight is free of expectation. Tonight you cannot be disappointed, it's just another night. That's why tonight could be the greatest night of your life. Because it's on nights like tonight that you end up at a party and you don't know a
single person who's carrying you on their shoulders. It's on nights like tonight when you wanna bring your passport, just in case. Gentlemen, you were conceived on a night like tonight. So tonight, before going out for that ice cold Budweiser, you put in
that extra two minutes in front of the mirror. Because you never know who you're going to meet ... So raise your bottles of Budweiser high in the air and make a toast to tonight. Now get out there, great times are waiting. Say it with me now ... .
The characters all chanted Grab some Buds . A voice-over stated ... for the facts, drinkaware.co.uk. Please drink Budweiser responsibly.
A complainant challenged whether the ad linked alcohol to sexual success.
InBev said Budweiser advertising in the UK drew upon the commonly attributed American values of optimism, free-spiritedness and a positive attitude. They said Budweiser believed that an optimistic outlook and can-do approach to life could bring
about the sharing of great times with friends. The radio ad was part of that tradition and was designed to capture the spirit of anticipation.
InBev said that, importantly, there were only two references to alcohol in the ad, which came towards the very end of the coach's speech. The references to Budweiser were independent of the messages delivered in the coach's speech and neither reference
was so strong as to directly link its consumption to sexual success or activity, nor did they imply that the consumption of alcohol was essential. They strongly believed the ad complied with the Code.
The RACC said the ad's message was about going out with a positive attitude rather than a message about going out and drinking or drinking being linked with sexual activity, sexual success, seduction or enhanced attractiveness. The ad was one in a series
that focused on having the night of your life , which was deliberately bigged up and described in a consciously exaggerated manner for dramatic effect. They did not believe there was any link between alcohol and sexual success.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA noted the ad was intended to capture a positive attitude and enjoyment of time spent with friends. We considered, however, the tone of the ad was such that it was likely to be interpreted as reflecting a sense of anticipation ahead of an evening
where alcohol would be drunk. We noted the ad included the references ... before going out for that ice cold Budweiser ... , ... So raise your bottles of Budweiser high in the air and make a toast to tonight ... and featured the group
chanting Grab some Buds . We also noted the speech-giver encouraged the members of the group to make additional effort in getting ready for the evening, even though there was nothing remarkable about it, by putting ... in that extra two minutes
in front of the mirror , because they did not know who they were going to meet. We noted it was suggested that it was on such nights that unexpected and significant events, including conception, could take place. We considered the ad was likely to be
understood as suggesting the group was preparing for an evening where alcohol would be drunk and during which the participants would have a great time, including the possibility of meeting a potential sexual partner. We considered the ad linked alcohol
to sexual success and therefore concluded that it breached the Code.
Eight ads on American Apparel's website, viewed in October 2011, and an ad in a free lifestyle magazine available from shops, distributed in October 2011:
a. The first website ad showed a woman wearing lace knickers and an un-zipped hooded sweater. She was arching her back towards the camera and her breasts were exposed.
b. The second website ad showed two women lying face-down on a bed, shot from above. They were looking up towards the camera. They were wearing thigh-high socks and nothing else, revealing their bare buttocks.
c. The third website ad showed the same two women wearing only thigh-high socks. They were lying on their sides, looking towards the camera. Their buttocks, and one woman's breast, were visible.
d. The magazine ad showed a woman lying on a bed. She was wearing a grey jumper and white knickers. Her legs were spread apart and her arms were raised above her head.
e. The fourth website ad was the same image as the magazine ad.
f. The fifth website ad showed two images of the same woman wearing the grey jumper and white knickers. In the first image she was sitting on the bed with her legs spread apart and her hands resting on the bed between her legs. In the second image she
was lying on the bed with her legs spread apart. She was looking up towards the camera.
g. The sixth website ad showed four images of the same woman wearing the grey jumper only. In all of the images she was standing, facing diagonally away, and looking over her shoulder towards the camera. Her buttocks were visible in all of the images.
The bed was visible in the background.
h. The seventh website ad showed two images of a woman wearing white trousers only. In the first image she was standing side-on to the camera. She was arching her back and holding her arms over her breasts. In the second image she was standing diagonally
face-on to the camera. She was arching her back with her arms raised to her head, exposing her breasts.
i. The eighth website ad showed the same two images of the woman wearing white trousers, superimposed over an image of the American Apparel factory building. Grey lines were drawn onto the images of the woman as if they were pencil drawings.
A complainant challenged whether the images were offensive, because they believed that they were pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.
American Apparel (AA) said they did not believe that any of the images were pornographic, exploitative of women or inappropriately sexualised young women. They said the images on their website featured real, non-airbrushed, everyday people, and that the
vast majority of them were not professional models. They said that the sorts of images which appeared were the sorts of images people regularly shared with their friends on social networks and which normal people could relate to. They said the approach
was not graphic, explicit or pornographic but was designed to show a range of different images of people that were natural, not posed and real. They said that the women who featured in the images were clearly in their twenties, and emphasised that they
were happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose. They said the women were not portrayed in a manner which was vulnerable, negative or exploitative. They said the partial nudity in some of the images was not explicit or graphic and the poses were
intended to show off the products advertised.
AA said that, although they did not have any demographic data with regard to visitors to their website, they imagined that the types of products featured in the images were purchased by young adults in the 18 to 35 age range, and in particular, people in
their twenties. They considered it was therefore likely that it would be young adult women who would be viewing the images, and argued that such adult women were highly unlikely to be offended by such images. They said that Crack Magazine, in which ad
(d) was published, also had an adult audience and they did not think that its readers would be offended by the image
AA said they believed it was important to judge what was and was not offensive by reference to the current times and the views of the majority of decent and reasonable people, not a small and puritanically-minded minority. They said the images in their
advertising were less, and certainly no more, sexual in nature than a large proportion of the images of other companies. They provided copies of ads in a variety of magazines and websites to illustrate their view. They said members of the public were
frequently exposed to far more sexually exploitative images in advertising, and even more so in newspapers, television and on the internet. AA said they believed that if the complaint was upheld it would be applying a standard of offensiveness and
censorship which would be completely out of date in the more adult and non-repressive world of today, and would also mean that the vast majority of lingerie advertising would be deemed to be offensive, pornographic, exploitative or to inappropriately
Crack Magazine responded in relation to ad (d). They said that although it was regrettable that someone had taken offence to the image, this was the first and only complaint they had received about an American Apparel ad in their magazine and as such it
seemed that there was a common consensus amongst their readers that the material was not unduly offensive. They said that, although they appreciated the suggestive nature of the pose and clothes in question, in their opinion there were much worse ads in
circulation. They said their audience was an educated, mature, adult demographic that would be able to distinguish between a mildly suggestive ad intended to sell something and something totally inappropriate. They said they felt they were able to
distinguish totally inappropriate ads and would censor them and inform their advertisers if that was the case. They did not feel that was the case with ad (d).
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
We noted that ads (a), (b), (h) and (i) featured women whose breasts were exposed, and ads (b), (c), and (g) featured women whose buttocks were exposed. We acknowledged that in some ads, for example ads for lingerie, it was reasonable to feature women in
limited amounts of clothing. However, we noted that the majority of clothing items featured in the ads were outer garments, and considered that the nature of the women's poses meant that their breasts and buttocks were the focal points of the images
rather than the products. We considered that the nudity was therefore gratuitous. We also considered the women's poses in ads (a), (c), (h) and (i) were sexually provocative, because the poses emphasised their breasts and hips, and that although the
poses in ads (b) and (g) were more subtle, the nudity and the flirtatious nature of the poses meant they were also sexually provocative. We noted the woman in ads (d) and (e) was wearing a jumper and knickers, but considered that the nature of her pose
meant that the focal point of the image was on her groin rather than on the products. We noted the woman was posing on an unmade bed, that she was gazing into the camera, her arms were raised above her head, her jumper was pulled up slightly and her legs
were spread apart, and considered that her pose was therefore sexually provocative. We concluded that the gratuitous nudity in ads (a), (b), (c), (g), (h) and (i), in combination with the sexualised nature of the poses, and the sexually provocative pose
in ads (d) and (e), meant the ads were exploitative and inappropriately sexualised young women.
We noted the women appeared to have been photographed in everyday locations, without professional lighting, styling or makeup, and considered that resulted in the impression that the images had been taken by amateur photographers and posed by women who
were not professional models. We understood that was at least in part because AA generally did not use professional models in their advertising and preferred to use images featuring real , non-airbrushed, everyday people. We considered that was
not in itself problematic. However, we considered that in the particular context of images which featured nudity and sexually provocative poses, there was a voyeuristic and amateurish quality to the images which served to heighten the impression
that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women. We concluded ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), (h) and (i) had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
Whilst we noted we had not seen any demographic data with regard to visitors to AA's website, we noted AA's view that it was likely that the products featured in the ads would be purchased by young adult women, and therefore that they would be most
likely to view the images. We acknowledged that was likely to be the case with regard to the images which appeared in AA's online store. However, we considered that, where the images appeared on the home page and in the Advertising section of AA's
website, they were likely to be viewed by a wider audience. Nonetheless, we considered it was likely that ads (a), (b), (c), (e), (g), (h) and (i) were likely to cause serious or widespread offence wherever they appeared on AA's website within the remit
of the ASA. With regard to ad (d), we understood Crack Magazine was intended for an educated, mature, adult audience but nonetheless considered that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence in a magazine that was untargeted and freely
available in a range of locations including shops, hair salons and pubs.
Not upheld in relation to ad (f)
We considered the pose of the woman in ad (f) was only mildly sexually suggestive, and, in the context of the medium in which it appeared, it was not irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), (h) and (i) breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
Ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), (h) and (i) must not appear again in their current form. We told AA not to use similar images which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualised young women in future.