Four ads, for Rustlers convenience food, appeared on a range of different platforms.
a. The VOD ad was shown on 4oD and ITV Player. The ad featured a woman, wearing a short butcher's apron, stockings, suspenders and high heels, in a butcher's shop. A sign on the wall behind her stated FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER . The woman said
in a sultry voice, Hi there. I've something really satisfying to show you, so join me in my butcher's shop. Dad's left me in charge, which means we've got the place to ourselves. Just you, me and plenty of well-hung meat. The woman then pointed at
on-screen text which stated Click for more and said, You know you want to. Clicking on the text took viewers to the advertiser's website, www.rustlersonline.com.
b. The ad appeared in an iPad game app.
c. The ad appeared on YouTube
d. The ad appeared on the MailOnline website
e. The ad on the MailOnline and the local news website, www.thisissouthwales.co.uk, appeared next to an article. Text, written on a blackboard, stated Rustlers BOYS ARE ALWAYS COMPLIMENTING ME ON MY NICE RACK . The last two words were much larger
than the preceding text. The woman from ad (a) danced into view with her back to the viewer, wiggling her bottom. She was wearing black knickers with the butcher's apron, stockings and suspenders. She stopped, glanced suggestively over her shoulder
towards the viewer, and winked. The text on the board changed to state FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER CLICK FOR MORE . The woman bent her knees and pointed at the viewer, kicked her leg back and walked off camera.
f. The first ad on www.rustlersonline.com featured the same woman in the butcher's shop, again speaking in a sultry voice, and emphasising certain words which could be taken as innuendo. She said, Oh yes, you know how the script goes, don't you boys?
Your starving mates keep coming over, so here's some ideas for mouth watering, tasty treats to give them. Rustlers subs, Rustlers burgers on my lovely baps, or Rustlers wraps are sure to go down a storm and tackle their hunger. Containing no hydrogenated
fat, we can trace your meat back to its farm of origin. She was shown stroking a large salami sausage. She continued, It's flame-grilled and coated in my creamy mayo salsa or barbeque sauce, guaranteed to satisfy your drooling mouth. They're quick
and easy to cook and if you offer a touch of liquid refreshment too, the shout from your mates will be 'I want some more'. A sign was shown which stated FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER Rustlers . The ad also included an interactive element; when
website users hit numbers on their keyboard, the ad skipped to certain points throughout the ad.
g. The second ad on www.rustlersonline.com also featured the same woman in the same setting, speaking in the same way and again emphasising certain words. She said, I want your full attention boys, because I'm going to tell you about what goes in to
the great Rustlers range. We began in Ireland as a family butchers with a deep passion for making quality meat products for those who want good food, fast. We take pride in all that we do, because before I put something in my mouth I want to know where
it's been. The woman was shown stroking a sausage. She continued, So we always know where your meat has been farmed and reared, and from the barbeque sauce we put over succulent ribs to our creamy mayonnaise, everything we touch is handled with
care. Our baps are fluffy and delicious. I pop my buns in the toaster so they don't go too soft in the microwave. Maybe you should try that too. A sign was shown which stated FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER Rustlers . The ad included the same
interactive element as ad (f).
The ASA received 18 complaints.
All the complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive, because they were sexist to women and presented them as merely sex objects.
Four complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were appropriate to be seen by children.
1. Not upheld in relation to ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e)
The ASA noted the woman in the ads was wearing revealing clothing, that in ads (a) to (d) she used mild innuendo to encourage viewers to follow the link to the advertiser's website, and that in ad (e) mild innuendo appeared on the blackboard beside her.
We acknowledged that some viewers might find the ads distasteful, in part because there was only a tentative link between the product and the use of a woman wearing revealing clothing and using innuendo. However, we considered that the woman's clothing,
the language used, and the dance in ad (e), were not sexually provocative or explicit, and the ads did not present women merely as sex objects. We concluded ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Upheld in relation to ads (f) and (g)
We acknowledged the ads were similar in theme and appearance to ads (a) to (e). However, we considered that some of the innuendo in ads (f) and (g) was significantly stronger, particularly because it was emphasised by some of the woman's actions, it was
sexually provocative, and it was the focus of the ad rather than the information she gave about the product. We considered the overall effect of the ads was that the woman was presented as a sex object. We concluded the ads were likely to cause
widespread offence as a result.
Notwithstanding that, we noted the interactive element of the ads could be used by website users to jump to certain words or phrases in the woman's speech which, although likely to be considered as innuendo when the ad was viewed in full, became sexually
explicit when combined in different orders by the user. We considered the interactivity therefore accentuated the presentation of the woman as merely a sex object. We concluded the interactive element to the ads was likely to cause both serious and
On this point, we investigated ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence), but did not find them in breach.
On this point, ads (f) and (g) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
2. Not upheld in relation to ad (a)
We understood the complainants' concerns and agreed that the ad was not appropriate to be seen by children, because it contained sexual innuendo and the woman was wearing sexually suggestive clothing. However, we noted that none of the complainants had
stated that they were aware of children who had seen the ad on VOD, and we considered that both Channel 4 and ITV had taken appropriate steps to prevent the ad from being viewed by children. We concluded that the VOD ad was not socially irresponsible.
Upheld in relation to ad (b)
For the reasons stated above, we considered the ad was not appropriate to be seen by children. We noted the audience to whom the ad had been targeted but were concerned it was likely that the ad had been served to consumers outside the target audience;
for example, we understood that the complainants who had seen the ad during the iPad game and on news websites, which were media targeted by Kepak's network advertising partner, were all female. We also understood that where targeting was based on online
behaviour or even demographic data provided by an internet user, ads could only be targeted to individual devices or logins on those devices, rather than to specific consumers. We considered it was therefore likely that children, who often used devices
owned by their parents, such as iPads, to play games or access the Internet, could have viewed the ad. We considered the advertiser should have taken greater care to ensure the ad could not be viewed by children, and concluded the targeting of the ad
during the iPad game was not responsible advertising.
On this point, we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising), but did not find it in breach.
On this point, ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising).
Australia's federal government has rejected recommendations from an outdoor advertising inquiry, turning down calls
for greater regulation of supposedly racist or sexualised images in ads and for further restrictions on alcohol ads.
The government rejected the inquiry's recommendation that racist or sexualised images in outdoor advertising should come under new anti-discrimination legislation.
The government has also refused a recommendation that advertisers who do not follow industry codes should be named and shamed in Parliament. It said this was primarily a matter for the advertising industry body.
During the inquiry's sometimes fiery public hearings last year, several nutter groups called for more censorship of outdoor advertising. The Salvation Army said the present system of self-regulation had failed to protect the rights of children,
particularly girls regarding sexualisation.
The inquiry also recommended that the Attorney-General's Department review how well the industry acts on its recommendations and impose a co-regulatory system if there was not enough improvement. The government has agreed to give advertising
industry bodies until December to respond to the report and show how they have acted on the recommendations.
An advert for Carefree pantyliners has sparked outrage in New Zealand after viewers complained it contained language they deemed offensive.
The TV commercial by Johnson & Johnson brand Carefree dispenses with the customary euphemisms and sanitised suggestions at bodily functions. Instead, the actress in the advert talks openly about the woman's monthly cycle - mentioning the
words vagina and discharge .
The actress in the commercial, appearing partially naked behind flower petals and blurry soft focus, says to the camera that even that bit of discharge in between our period is our body working to keep the vagina healthy. She goes on to
say that Carefree pads lock away wetness and odour, helping you to feel dry, clean and fresh every day.
The New Zealand Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) received nine complaints, with viewers objecting particularly to the words vagina and discharge .
The advert had been given the green light by the advertising standards authority with the proviso that it cannot be shown during programmes that specifically target children under the age of 13.
New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority has now said it would not proceed with complaints against ads for Carefree Acti-fresh Panty Liners, New World, and Sealy Beds, which were claimed to be unfit for family viewing.
The Carefree ad is presented by a woman who appears naked and says: that bit of discharge in between our period is our body working to keep the vagina healthy.
One complainant said the words vagina and discharge were not necessary. I have a 9-year-old who is up until 8pm-8.30 and he definitely does not need to hear words like that. Others claimed the pairing of a naked woman with
the word vagina was overly sexual.
The authority said that while people may be uncomfortable about the direct way the subject matter was discussed, there was nothing offensive when taking into account the product being advertised. It also noted that while it appeared the woman
was naked, she was shown from a distance, her genitalia was not visible, and her appearance was neither salacious nor titillating .
The New World ad began by showing a couple waking up after a night out, who take a trip to the supermarket together before going on a picnic and falling in love. The authority said that the while the ad showed a couple at the likely beginning of
a relationship, it did not, in itself, promote casual sex, promiscuity or one-night stands.
The Sealy beds ad asked the question on-screen: what do we do in bed? It then looked through various windows in an apartment building, showing scenes like a man playing guitar, a woman putting coats on the bed at a party and a couple
kissing. One complainant said, two naked people making out in the Sealy bed [sic] was not suitable for early in the day. The authority said that although the depiction may have been suggestive, the section of the advertisement was
fleeting and was not explicit.
A television commercial showing female models struggling with their bras is fine for Australian daytime TV, say the local advert censors.
The Advertising Standards Authority has dismissed two complaints against the Thin Lizzy Miracle Bra, saying there are no grounds to proceed.
A Complainant had whinged that the commercial should be aired at a later time, saying:
It is fairly explicit and not suitable for children's viewing. One gets a good look at women's breasts being adjusted and it is quite revealing.
I would not have minded one bit if my kids weren't sitting next to me. Don't take it off the air, just view it later.
However, the judgment from the ASA notes that models who were wearing a bra without a shirt were no more exposed than if there would have been in a bikini.
ASA chairman Hilary Souter was sympathetic to the issue raised in the complaint but the advert was not socially irresponsible and did not breach community standards. It had also been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to
consumers and society so there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.
A Christian radio station has been given the go-ahead to appeal a court decision which upheld a
ban on an advert asking Christians whether they are being sidelined at work.
In its decision to grant the appeal, the court said the radio station's case is Arguable and important .
The legal wrangling centres on a 30 second advert, which was due to air at the time of the last general election. The ad quoted surveys showing that 60 per cent of active Christians were being increasingly marginalised at work.
The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) stopped it from being aired, claiming that it was directed to a political end .
But lawyers for Premier said: The advertisement was not a political message but a request for information which could then be used as part of the normal democratic process, where ideas and views are expressed in public discussion,
contradicted, answered and debated.
Australia's Advertising Standards Board has issued a judgment in which it said comments made by fans of a vodka brand's Facebook page
were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes and therefore consumer protection laws. Advertisement
The ruling will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.
Non compliant companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook brand pages.
A media lawyer is warning that the Advertising Standards Board's ruling on Smirnoff's Facebook page will put the onus back on companies to be more vigilant about the nature of the comments people are posting to their company pages. John Swinson,
a partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, said the board's ruling turned people's opinions into statements of facts .
Swinson said that if, for example, a member of the public posted a comment on Smirnoff's site that claimed it was the purest Russian vodka and would lead to success with the opposite sex and Smirnoff failed to remove it, the company could be
liable on a number of counts.
Although the Advertising Standards Board dismissed the original complaint about Smirnoff, which centred on sexism, under-age drinking and obscene language, it ruled industry codes applied not only to what a company was posting on its Facebook
page but to the user-generated comments that followed.
The board's determination also cited a recent case of a health company, Allergy Pathway, which was fined for allowing misleading and deceptive testimonials to remain on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
A video on the Agent Provocateur website www.agentprovocateur.com for their Soiree line of lingerie featured a woman in a nightgown, alone in her home. She was shown answering the telephone twice, the first time she answered, no one spoke. The
second time there was the sound of someone laughing at the other end. The woman looked anxiously out of her window before several women, who were wearing revealing lingerie with stockings and long boots, appeared at the window and then inside
the house. The women were shown dragging the other woman through the house who then adopted a series of poses, some sexual, alone and with the other women. During the course of the video, the woman looked visibly distressed and several times the
position of her nightgown revealed her breasts. The group of women then appeared to attack the woman's body; she then she re-appeared wearing similar revealing lingerie to the group. Issue
The complainant objected that the ad was irresponsible as it appeared on a website that could be seen by children because it had no age restriction.
Agent Provocateur Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA was concerned by Agent Provocateur's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our
enquiries and we told them to do so in future.
The ad appeared in a section of Agent Provocateur's website relating to a specific line of lingerie and was not protected through age verification. Although we noted that the website was designed to appeal to adults rather than children through
its style, colour and graphics and it promoted products that were likely to be seen as niche within the wider lingerie market, we considered that it featured erotic and fetish type scenes which some viewers would not find suitable to be seen by
Because of the sexually graphic and at times distressing nature of the video and the potential for children to share a web-link relatively easily we concluded that it was unsuitable for display on an openly-accessible website where it might be
viewed by children.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The ad must not appear again unless suitable precautions are taken to avoid it being seen by children.
In fact the video is now presented on the website with the warning:
Caution. Video contains sexy and provocative footage (not recommended for under 18).
Strange that the ASA seemed to have changed their minds about the same video since they last investigated it in March of this year.
In August 2012 ASA noted:
Because of the sexually graphic and at times distressing nature of the video...
In March 2012 ASA noted:
We also considered the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress.
ASA's Assessment from March 2012 read:
The ASA noted the online video appeared in the context of the website of a luxury lingerie retailer. We acknowledged some viewers might find some of the scenes distasteful but considered the highly stylised nature and clearly fictional content
of the video meant it was unlikely to be interpreted by most viewers in the way the complainant suggested. We considered the ads did not demean women and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to visitors to the Agent Provocateur
website. We also considered the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
You'd think that the censors would try and maintain a bit of consistency about their work. There seems little point in having censors if their decisions are arbitrary.
Update: Advert censors admit being 'distressed', not because the advert is 'distressing', but because Reg Bailey told them to be 'distressed'
An ASA spokesman said it did not investigate the online advert's inappropriateness for children during the original investigation because it can't tack on its own challenges . [Although it often does!]
The spokesman added that the decision was influenced by the Bailey Review into the sexualisation of childhood because it is now taking a tougher line on concerns about advertising and children .
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published the findings of research, conducted on its
behalf by Ipsos MORI, into the public's views on what is harmful and offensive in UK advertising.
Specific rules in the Advertising Codes require the ASA to make judgements based on prevailing standards in society. The qualitative and quantitative research undertaken with the general public, parents, and children will help inform our
decision making on matters relating to harm and offence.
Encouragingly, the findings indicate that the ASA is broadly getting it right when it comes to judging where the line should be drawn in terms of inappropriate or harmful ads. However, the research also reveals some unexpected findings, which
indicate some public concern about hard-hitting charity and public services ads.
Specifically, most children in the qualitative research spontaneously mentioned charity and public service ads as those that had upset or bothered them or younger siblings recently. Some felt upset by the ads themselves, while others were
worried because they wanted to help the cause but were unable to do so. Those ads were also a particular concern for parents.
When it came to harm and offence more generally, other areas of concern spontaneously mentioned by participants were: sexual content and nudity, body image, violent content and gender stereotypes.
In summary, the research reveals that:
Overall, participants' views of ads that had been the subject of complaints were broadly in line with the decisions taken by the ASA
16% said they had been personally offended by an ad or ads in the last twelve months, slightly lower than the 19% who had been offended when similar ASA research was conducted in 2002
Participants felt that the wider media showed stronger harmful and offensive content than advertising
Protecting children from potential harm was a key priority for both parents and non-parents alike, rather than just a concern for parents
30% of children aged 11-16 surveyed said they had been bothered by an ad in the last 12 months. Sexual, violent and scary content were their main reasons.
In more detail, the research reveals that:
Charity and public service ads. Some participants argued that those ads can go too far, using distressing content to make people feel upset or guilty in a way that they considered inappropriate. Some parents felt that some charity ads were
targeting their children directly, which then put pressure on them to donate money. Others felt those ads should have more scope to shock because of their worthwhile aims
Portrayal of body image. Despite widespread spontaneous concerns about the portrayal of unrealistic body image - seen as both offensive and harmful by many participants, particularly women - only a minority felt that specific examples of those
ads should be banned. Instead, advertising generally was seen as contributing to a broader culture where women -- and particularly girls -- can be made to feel bad about themselves
Sexual content and nudity. A few participants had concerns about sexual content and nudity in advertising, particularly where they could see no link between sex and the product being advertised. However, many were not worried by the current
level of sexual content and nudity in advertising, describing it as relatively inoffensive compared to other types of media
Ads for sex shops and lap dancing clubs. Those were not a spontaneous concern for participants. Most did not find the examples they were shown personally offensive, but views were more divided about whether or not they were harmful to children
Ads that depict gender stereotypes. Those were also mentioned spontaneously, with concerns about women being objectified and men being portrayed as stupid or engaging in juvenile behaviour
Violent and scary content. Few adults reported having been offended by that in advertising recently. Concerns were more focused on ads for violent films and computer games and their potentially harmful impact on children and young men. Adult
participants mentioned public service ads that featured violence or peril and whether they should be part of pre-watershed programming.
Chairman of the ASA, Lord Smith says:
This research is invaluable in giving us the opportunity to listen to what the public thinks on matters of harm and offence in ads. While it is reassuring that we generally seem to be getting things right, we cannot ignore the real concerns
that have been raised, particularly around children. We will now reflect on the findings, for example making sure we consider the perspectives of children even more carefully in the future.
A Swedish Christian Democrat youth leader has protested the censorship of a sexually-suggestive food stand
advertisement in southern Sweden by taking to the streets with red lips and painted nails to deliver her own sausages.
The supposedly offensive advert, with a close-up picture of a hotdog, two hands, and two red lips wrapped around the tip of the sausage, was taken down after a member of the local council responded to a complaint by the municipality's
This move prompted Felicia Lundqvist from Uppsala to protest against the local municipality in Simrishamn, which she claims is wasting tax money by employing a gender expert.
She stood in a busy square in the town with a sign over her chest which read: Felicia's hotdog stand. Suck on that gender experts! She said that she found nothing to be offensive about the original advert.
Britten Dehlin was the 'gender expert' who had taken issue with the street vendor's initial picture, causing its removal. She spouted:
This is a sexualized picture. A prime example of an poorly-thought through act and a traditional gender approach with the aim of drawing in customers.
Lundqvist, however, was shocked that politicians could remove an ad for reasons of gender equality without even reporting it first to the advertising ombudsman. Furthermore, Lundqvist says that she can't understand why gender experts are
given such lofty platforms to speak, claiming that Simrishamn's gender expert's salary should be donated towards preschools in the area instead.
This is an ad for a Tasmanian livestock and sheep shearing services company, ShearEwe. In fact the woman
being sheared is the Norwegian skier Kari Traa.
Perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau received a complaint saying:
The objectification of women, the sexual positioning of the woman, the representation of a woman as an animal and the restraint used were offensive. I actually thought this was someone's idea of a sick joke.
ShearEwe span a shaggy story about their 'work of art':
The picture is in fact a work of art. It was used in a campaign to showcase her clothing brand during the Sponsership of the 2008 Golden Shears Competition held in Norway that year, and has gained some appreciation and fame. The lady in the
picture is in fact the founder of the Norwegian clothing brand Kari Traa, (also her name) so I feel that this shows that shearers are trustworthy, gentle and accommodating. Someone you would trust to give you a hair cut, I realise that hobby
farmers treat their pet sheep like family.
The picture also educates people where wool comes from, that it is a natural resource and harvesting of wool is beneficial
But the advert censors were not impressed by the flippancy.
The Board noted the image of the woman depicted as a sheep about to be shorn. The Board noted that the woman is dressed but that she is posed in a mildly sexualised manner with the suggestion that she will soon be naked (from the shearing). The
Board considered that the image makes use of the woman's sexual appeal and attractiveness. The Board noted that advertiser's response that the image uses an artistic work which was used as part of promotional material during a shearing
The Board considered that the image depicts the man in a position of power and the woman in a submissive position. The Board also considered that the image depicts the woman in a position in which she is compared to an animal, with a suggestion
also of commodification (ie: that there is, as there is in shearing, many others to be shorn).
The Board considered that the representation of the woman as a sheep being shorn was irrelevant to the service advertised. The Board considered that the impact of the advertisement as a whole is exploitative of women and is also degrading.
The Board determined that the advertisement breached section 2.2 of the Code.
Australia's advert censor has banned an ad for Unilever deodorant Lynx for demeaning older men, but it was cleared of degrading both sexes, racism and bad language.
The part of the ad deemed unacceptable came at end, when an old man produced two deflated medicine balls and asks, Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody's played with them for years.
The ad received around 150 complaints from the public. One of the complaints to the Adverstising Standards Bureau (ASB) read:
It is smutty and filled with crude innuendo of a sexual nature. It is not clever advertising but rather immature banter akin to schoolyard talk. It has nothing to do with the advertising of the product and is totally unnecessary and demeaning to
men. If the topic was woman's breasts there would be outrage. Not funny not clever just feral.
The ASB ruled that, with the exception of the depiction of the older man, the portrayals of the people in the ad were not offensive.
Lynx responds to ad ban with fake press conference boosting the double entendre Lynx responds to ad ban with fake press conference boosting the double entendre.
In a move suggesting that a ban on Unilever's Lynx Clean Your Balls ad was a part of the company's advertising strategy from the outset, the brand has immediately launched a new video featuring an unapologetic mock press conference.
Transport for London (TfL) have been criticised by campaigners for accepting advertisements for Lockheed Martin. In particular the massive defence company is targeted for the continued production of cluster bombs.
Director of Handicap International UK Aleema Shivji told The Scoop:
As long as cluster bombs continue to be produced, they will continue to kill and maim innocent people, with civilians representing a staggering 98% of recorded casualties. Handicap International teams witness the terrible impact of cluster
bombs every day and meet victims unable to access the support they need to rebuild their lives. We are therefore saddened to see that TfL is earning advertising money from a company that makes cluster bombs, particularly when the UK banned
these weapons in 2008 by signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said:
This sends out the wrong message as to the type of business that London welcomes and the Mayor should instruct TfL to cancel Lockheed Martin's bookings of ad space on London's transport network.
Transport for London said:
Lockheed Martin is a legitimate company and as such is entitled to purchase advertising on public transport from TfL's advertising contractors.
A national press ad for Fathers4Justice, seen on Friday 16 March 2012 was headlined Say it with hate this
Mother's Day . The ad showed a picture of a toddler with various negative words written all over his body including pig, rioter, wife beater, etc. Text stated Fathers4Justice are writing to all advertisers this Mother's Day to inform them
that the Mumsnet web site carries abusive and distressing anti-male content which promotes gender hatred against men and boys. We believe that the general sexist labelling of men and boys as 'rapists', 'paedophiles' and 'wife beaters' is as
unacceptable and offensive as racism and homophobia. Fathers4Justice are asking advertisers to suspend their advertising on Mumsnet until founder Justine Roberts adopts a zero tolerance policy to gender hatred. Promote a message of love, not
hate this Mother's Day. Join our boycott of Mumsnet at ... .
Ten people complained about the ad.
Eight of the complainants challenged whether the claim Mumsnet web site carries abusive and distressing anti-male content which promotes gender hatred against men and boys was misleading and could be substantiated.
Three of the complainants also challenged whether the claim that Mumsnet had unfairly generalised men and boys as rapists, paedophiles and wife beaters was misleading and could be substantiated.
Five of the complainants also challenged whether the picture of the toddler with various derogatory remarks written over his body was offensive.
1. & 2. Fathers4Justice (F4J) said in their view the ad underplayed the seriousness and gravity of the content they had seen on Mumsnet and supplied the ASA with a number of screenshots of the Mumsnet website which they believed was evidence
of highly offensive anti-male gender hatred. They said that they had complained about the content to Mumsnet and asked them to remove this content and commit to a zero tolerance policy on gender hatred but Mumsnet had refused and only some of
the content was removed. As such, F4J believed that Mumsnet were responsible for such content.
F4J said that abusive, anti-male content continued to be posted on the site and considered that highlighting this was a matter of public interest and that the ad was an entirely legitimate way of raising this matter.
ASA Decision: Complaints 1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted the response from F4J who understood that Mumsnet were responsible for posts written by users on the website's forums. We also noted however that F4J had not sent us anything to suggest that Mumsnet endorsed
any of the views expressed on its web forums or any editorial content from the Mumsnet website to suggest that the website owners themselves harboured or promoted gender hatred against men or boys. We also considered that the claim the
general sexist labelling of men and boys as 'rapists', 'paedophiles' and 'wife beaters' is as unacceptable and offensive as racism and homophobia in the context of the ad implied that Mumsnet themselves had unfairly generalised men and boys
in this way in their editorial content and yet we noted that F4J had also not provided us with any evidence to suggest that this was the case.
We considered that many online web forums and comments sections of websites were likely to feature a range of views from across society, with some views being more extreme than others. Mumsnet said that their forums
regularly received over 25,000 posts per day and while it was not possible to monitor all of these posts, they relied on users of the forum to report any content that they considered to be offensive, which Mumsnet would then delete if it
taken. We considered that whilst some users of the website had made negative comments about men in its forums, it was misleading of F4J to imply through this ad that Mumsnet themselves had made or endorsed those comments. We therefore concluded
that the ad breached the code.
On points 1. & 2., the ad breached CAP Code rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
3. Not upheld
We noted the complainants' concerns about the image used in the ad. However, we considered that in the context of the ad it was clear what message F4J were trying to convey by using it, i.e. that the image was supposed to
visually represent unfair and offensive labelling of men. While we understood that the image had caused some distress to the complainants, we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach. Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We asked F4J not to imply that forum postings on Mumsnet's website indicated endorsement or support from the website itself.