A Family At War
Talking Pictures TV, 19 November 2017, 20:15
Talking Pictures TV is an entertainment channel broadcasting classic films and archive programmes.
A Family At War was a British period drama series made between 1970 and 1972, about the experiences of a family from Liverpool during the Second World War. The episode Hazard was produced in 1971 and showed one of the main characters, Philip
Ashton, serving in the British army in Egypt in 1942, focusing on his encounter with another soldier, Jack Hazard.
We received a complaint about offensive language in this episode, as follows:
in a scene set in an army mess in the Egypt desert, Hazard, a white British soldier, ordered some drinks and asked the barkeeper to get a waiter to bring the drinks over to where Hazard and Ashton were sitting by saying: “Send the wog over with
them, will you?”. When the Egyptian waiter brought the drinks to Hazard and Ashton’s table, Hazard said to him, “And how’s the war going for you, Ahmed, you thieving old wog…you old thief…you thieving old sod?”;
in a scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent on their army base, Hazard asked Ashton to accompany him to the army bar by saying: “Let’s go down to the woggery, there’s bound to be a fair bit of skirt out of bounds… Or perhaps Ahmed could fix us up
with a female wog? [laughs] I bet he rents out his kid sister”; and
in a later scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent Hazard said the following to Ashton: “You know what I think I’ll do on my next leave? I’ll pay a visit to the wog tattooist”.
Ofcom considered rule 2.3:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
Talking Pictures said that it believed the inclusion of the potentially offensive racist language in this episode was justified by the context. It explained that the creator of the series, John Finch, had intended it to challenge the 1970s
audience's understanding of the Second World War by being honest to the realities of the war time period206 shocking as that may be, and broadcast within the constraints and conventions of the time.
Talking Pictures said that it had suspended any further broadcast of this episode. It also said that it had contracted a third-party expert to conduct a review of all content containing racial language to complement its existing compliance system
Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.3
We first considered whether the language had the potential to cause offence. Ofcom's 2016 research on offensive language makes clear that the word wog is considered by audiences to be a derogatory term for black people and to be among the
strongest language and highly unacceptable without strong contextualisation.
We considered that the word wog was used in a clearly derogatory way towards an Egyptian character Ahmed, both directly to Ahmed's face and later when he is not present. The Licensee argued that some of Hazard's offensive statements related to
actual Second World War references, namely the term WOG [which] was originally 'Working on Government Service' before it became an ethnic and racial slur. We understand that the derivation of wog is contested, but irrespective of its origins, and
as acknowledged by Talking Pictures, the term today is considered highly offensive.
We acknowledged that the Licensee's audience would have recognised that they were watching a programme made several decades ago when attitudes to language were different. However, we considered that the repeated use of highly offensive racist
language without direct challenge carried a high risk of causing significant offence today.
It is Ofcom's view that the broadcast of this offensive language exceeded generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
Talking Pictures was previously found in breach of the Code for the broadcast of racially offensive language without sufficient contextual justification on 9 January 20173 and 8 January 20184 (for material broadcast on 24 August 2016 and 13
September 2017 respectively). Ofcom is requesting Talking Pictures to attend a meeting to discuss its
Talking Pictures TV, a family-owned, father and daughter-run station with only three members of staff,
launched on Freeview less than three years ago but it already has over two million viewers.
Its unashamedly nostalgic diet of mainly old black-andwhite films, documentary shorts and TV series of yesteryear has proved a huge hit with the public and - we are informed - the Queen.
Alas not everyone is happy about the great service to film and vintage TV buffs that the channel is providing. Media regulator Ofcom has summoned Talking Pictures TV managing director Sarah Cronin-Stanley and her father Noel to a meeting to
discuss compliance issues after the channel was found in breach of rules regarding the broadcasting of offensive language. Sarah commented:
There are some films that are too horrible to show. But our view of context is different to Ofcom's. The word used in A Family At War is one that quite rightly we don't use today but it was one the character - who wasn't very likeable - would
have used at the time in which the drama was set, which is why we didn't censor it. He was in Egypt during the war and was talking to squaddies.
The Express writer commented:
It's also worth bearing in mind that A Family At War was hugely popular when first shown on ITV in the 1970s.
The Ofcom intervention raises serious issues about censorship and attempts to rewrite history. The fact is that terms we regard as offensive today were used by people every day in the past.
Ofcom can't censor British TV history - surely we are meant to learn from the past
UK Muslims have reportedly launched a campaign to have Ahmadiyya billboards removed from sites in London,
Manchester and Glasgow.
Mainstream, Muslims say that the billboard incites hatred, it is deeply offensive and hurtful to millions of British citizens, but for the Ahmadiyya it is a core belief.
The ASA confirmed that it has received 33 complaints so far about the adverts. A spokesman said people have claimed the billboards are:
Misleading because they believe it is not consistent with the teachings of the Koran. Due to the perceived misrepresentation of Muslim beliefs, complainants also consider the ad offensive on this basis.
On the other hand the Ahmadiyya community believes that the Messiah promised in the Koran has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The ASA says it is assessing the complaints and will make a ruling this week as to whether there are grounds for further investigation. But of course it cannot possibly investigate as an outcome either way would be totally untenable under human
rights law upholding the freedom of religion. Even a neutral ruling saying that the poster does not cause issue with ASA rules would likely to be interpreted as support for one side or the other.
A TV ad for Aldi featured a computer-generated image of a carrot that stated, I see dead parsnips. The voice-over then stated, Kevin was feeling a little bit tense. He thought there were spirits. He had a sixth sense. As it turned out his
instincts were right. There were a few spirits that cold Christmas night. Award winning bottles for raising a toast and one frightened carrot had just seen a ghost. The ending of the ad showed Kevin the carrot being frightened by another character
dressed-up as a ghost with a white blanket over them. Throughout the ad were scenes showing various bottles of spirits.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to have strong appeal to people under 18 years of age.
Aldi Stores Ltd stated whilst Kevin the Carrot (Kevin) was intended to be humorous, it was not designed to have specific appeal to under-18s. Aldi believed much of the humour in the situations in which Kevin had been placed since his first
appearance in 2016 was of a nature that would be more appealing to adults than to children.
Aldi stated because the ad was promoting alcohol, it was scheduled in accordance with the BCAP Code and therefore was not aired adjacent to programmes likely to appeal to under-18s.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA noted the ad was subject to a broadcast restriction which meant it was not transmitted during or adjacent to children's programmes, which included all programmes commissioned for, directed at or likely to appeal to under-18 audiences. The
BCAP Code required alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 years of age, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour.
We considered that Kevin the Carrot appeared to be childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child. Furthermore, we understood Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period and was popular amongst under
18-year-olds, particularly young children. We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18.
We also considered the Christmas theme of the ad contributed to the likelihood of Kevin having strong appeal to under-18s. We noted that choir music was played in the background whilst the voice-over told a short and simple narrative poem.
Although the content of the dialogue and poem, which made use of a pun on spirits, was not typical content for children, we considered the tone was reminiscent of a children's story, therefore it was likely to resonate with and strongly appeal to
younger children. Furthermore, we considered the ending of the ad showing Kevin being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost would be particularly funny for younger children and consequently, contributed to the overall effect of the
ad having strong appeal to under-18s.
Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Aldi that their future ads for alcohol must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 years of age.
Two TV ads and a Video on Demand (VOD) promoted the men's fragrance, Paco Rabanne XS:
a. The first TV ad, which was seen in July and August 2017, depicted a man walking into a bathroom. He was seen to have removed his suit jacket and became topless. Two women were then seen peering towards a light source in a dark room. The ad
then featured a close up shot of the man's hip area, with him standing behind a bath tap, which he proceeded to turn on. The ad then returned to the two women in a dark room, one of whom pushed the other out of the way. The man was shown walking
towards a mirror and looking at his own reflection. The ad revealed a group of women standing behind a one-way mirror. The women watched through the mirror and became excited as the man caressed his chest. One woman was seen to turn away from
the one-way mirror, becoming breathless. The man walked up close to the mirror as if looking closely at the reflection of his face and one of the women was seen to kiss the mirror on the other side. The ad then showed the man moving his hand
downwards onto his abdomen. The women in the dark room began screaming. The ad then featured a bird's eye view of the set with the man standing in the bathroom, separated, by a mirror and walls, from the group of women who were in a viewing
room, with a few other women rushing to join the group. The ad then featured a close up, side shot of the man's hip area, in which he was seen to be undoing his trousers zip. The women in the view room watched and fanned themselves. The ad
showed the back of the man, who began pulling off his trousers with his buttocks obscured by the bathtub. The women in the viewing room began cheering at the one-way mirror, through which they could see the man who was now visibly naked, with
his lower abdomen and hip area obscured. The man was then sprayed the perfume on either side of his neck. The ad cuts back to the women in the viewing room, clambering towards the one-way mirror. The ad then returned to a close-up shot of the
man's abdomen and showed him spraying the perfume towards his groin area. The women in the viewing room were then seen to faint and collapse on to the ground.
b. The second TV ad, seen in July and August 2017, was a shorter version of ad (a).
c. The VOD ad, seen on 4oD on 27 July 2017, was the same as ad (a).
The ASA received 120 complaints.
A number of the complainants, who believed ads (a), (b) and (c) were sexist and objectified the man depicted because he was seen as the subject of voyeurism, challenged whether the ads were offensive.
Some of the complainants, who believed that ads (a) and (b) were sexist because the women featured were depicted as powerless and weak and therefore reinforced stereotypes, challenged whether the ads were offensive.
Some of the complainants, one of whom saw ad (a) during Gogglesprogs on Channel 4, also challenged whether the ads were inappropriately scheduled to be shown when children might see it, due to the sexual nature of the ads.Response
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered it was unclear from the ad whether or not the male character was aware that he was or had consented to being watched in the bathroom via the one-way mirror.
Although the ad did not feature explicit nudity, it was heavily focused on the physical appearance of the male character. The ad featured multiple shots in which the male character was topless and his expressions when looking in the mirror
suggested that he was admiring his own physique and attractiveness. We considered that this and the reactions of the women to him placed a strong emphasis on the attractiveness of the male character.
However, we noted the scenario depicted in the ad was not realistic and the tone was risqu39 but comedic and farcical. We considered the ad showed the male character's attractiveness in a light-hearted, humorous way, rather than in a degrading or
humiliating manner. We therefore considered viewers were likely to recognise the ad was a comical dramatisation of a surreal situation.
Whilst we acknowledged some might find the ad distasteful, we considered, for the above reasons, the ad did not objectify the male character and we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
We considered because the women were seen to be watching the man, perhaps without his knowledge, it suggested they were in a position of power over the male character. We noted as the ad progressed and the male character was in various stages of
undress, it was evident from the reactions of the women depicted they were increasingly being overcome with excitement. We further noted during one of the final scenes, all of the women were seen to have fainted and collapsed at the sight of the
man spraying the fragrance towards his groin.
Whilst we acknowledged some might find the portrayal of the women in the ads uncomplimentary and distasteful, we noted the reactions of the women -- for example, the scenes in which the women were shown to be breathless and screaming; another in
which they were seen to be clambering over each other; and another in which one woman was seen to be kissing the one-way mirror -- were exaggerated and caricaturised, which contributed to the overall comedic tone of the ad. In addition, because
the setting of the ads was unrealistic and highly stylised, we considered viewers were likely to recognise that the ads portrayed the women in a farcical manner, which was removed from reality. For those reasons, we considered the ads were
unlikely to reinforce stereotypes of women and concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
3. Not upheld
We understood some complainants, who saw the ad broadcasted during the afternoon and early evening, were concerned the ads had been inappropriately scheduled to be shown when children might see it, especially during the school holidays.
We understood the ads had been given an ex-kids timing restriction by Clearcast, which meant it should not be shown during or around programmes made for, or likely to appeal to children. We considered that although the ad was not sexually explicit
its content was sexually suggestive, particularly in its portrayal of the man undressing, caressing his body and spraying the fragrance towards his groin area, and that the ad contained themes of the voyeurism, making it unsuitable for younger
children. Because the ads had been given an ex-kids restriction, we considered the scheduling restriction applied had been appropriate.
We also noted that the ad had been scheduled at around 8.40 pm during Gogglesprogs on Channel 4 on 28 July 2017. The programme was a spin-off of the programme Gogglebox and featured children between the ages of 5 and 13 viewing and commenting on a
selection of TV programmes and other content, such as ads and news headlines. We noted from Channel 4's response that the programme was not commissioned or made specifically for children, but was made to appeal to a broad adult audience.
We also noted the historical BARB index data for the programme, which was provided by Channel 4, included a breakdown of a four-week rolling average index for children aged between 4 and 9, 4 and 15, and 10 and15, all of which indicated that the
programme did not appear to be of particular appeal to children below the age of 16. We also considered the BARB data for the programme on 28 July 2017 which indicated that children made up a small proportion of the audience. There were
approximately 1,031,000 viewers in total, including approximately 92,000 children; 50,000 of whom were children aged between 4 and 9 years, and 42,000 of whom were aged between 10 and 15 years. Notwithstanding that children were predominantly
featured in Gogglesprogs, we considered that the ad was generally consistent with the type of ads that viewers were likely to expect to see during that time of the day and we did not consider that there was an unsuitable juxtaposition between the
content of the ad and the programme during which it appeared.
Because the ad was not sexually explicit; it was not inconsistent with the type of ads that viewers would generally expect at that time of day; and there was not an unsuitable juxtaposition between the content of the ad and the programme
Gogglesprogs, which was not of particular appeal to children, we concluded the ads had not been inappropriately scheduled.
A poster for Tunnocks Tea Cakes, seen on 6 November 2017, showed an image of a female tennis player holding a tea
cake in place of a tennis ball at the top of her thigh, with her skirt raised at the hip. Text underneath the image of the women stated Where do you keep yours? with text underneath the product image stating Serve up a treat.
A complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible because they believed it was sexist and objectified women.
Thomas Tunnock Ltd t/a Tunnocks Tea Cakes stated the ad appeared on a poster site adjacent to the SEC Hydro Arena in Glasgow to coincide with a charity tennis match and was created with a tennis audience in mind. They explained that the creative
execution and placement of the teacakes were a substitute to the normal placement of tennis balls and that they were not placed in an abnormal position. They stated they did not intend to offend anyone.
The Forrest Group confirmed they had not received any complaints about the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA noted the ad depicted a woman lifting her tennis skirt while holding a tea cake beside her hip, in place of where a tennis ball would usually be held, with her bare thigh exposed and her underwear clearly visible. While we acknowledged the
ad was placed opposite an arena hosting a tennis match, we considered it nevertheless bore no relevance to the advertised product.
We considered the phrase serve up a treat would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the treat, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the
image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase serve up a treat it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman's physical features to draw attention to the ad.
In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers and was socially irresponsible.
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Thomas Tunnock Ltd to ensure their advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious offence by objectifying women.
A series of posts on Poundland's Twitter and Facebook page, promoting the #ElfBehavingBad
campaign, seen in December 2017:
a. An ad, posted on 11 December, featured an image of a toy elf and a bottle of De-Icer placed in front of a car windscreen which featured a drawing of a pair of breasts. The caption stated, Oh Elf, we know it's nippy
outside but not that kind of nippy! #ElfBehavingBad.
b. An ad, posted on 12 December, featured an image of the toy elf in a sink filled with bubbles sitting with two female dolls, taking a selfie. The caption stated Rub-a-dub-dub, three in a tub. A night of 'Selfies and
c. An ad, posted on 13 December, featured a moving graphic of the toy elf with a toothbrush placed between its legs whilst motioning back and forth. The caption stated, That's one way to scratch that itch. That's not
Santa's toothbrush is it?!.
d. A tweet, posted on 15 December, featured an image of the toy elf holding a spherical shaped object and a Darth Vader toy holding a lightsaber. The caption stated, Buzz off Darth, my lightsaber is bigger than yours.
e. An ad, posted on 16 December, featured an image of the toy elf sitting on a toy donkey's back with the caption, Don't tell Rudolph I've found a new piece of ass.
f. An ad, posted on 18 December featured an image of the toy elf next to a drawing of a phallic-shaped tree with the caption, That's one very prickly Christmas tree.
g. An ad, posted on 19 December featured an image of the toy elf wearing a dark moustache holding an arrow that pointed towards it, which featured the text FREE moustache rides. The caption stated First come, first served.
h. An ad, posted on 20 December featured an image of a toy elf playing a game of cards with three unclothed dolls. The caption stated Joker, joker. I really want to poker.
i. An ad, posted on 21 December featured an image of the toy elf holding a tea bag between its legs with a female doll lying beneath it.
85 complainants challenged whether:
The ads were offensive for their depiction of toy characters and other items which had been displayed in a sexualised manner; and
The ads were unsuitable to be displayed in an untargeted medium where children could see them.Response
Poundland Ltd stated that their elf campaign was based on humour and double entendres.
They explained that while the nature of a double entendre was that they would not be understood by children. They also stated Twitter and Facebook had policies which prevented under-13s from creating accounts on their
websites and Poundland had never sought to encourage anyone other than adults to follow Poundland on these social networks.
They provided an appendix, which contained highlights of comments they had received in support of the campaign and referenced results from a poll conducted on Twitter where 82% of a sample audience containing over 12,000
responders supported the campaign. The results were almost equally split between men and women. They provided information on the volume of interactions they had during the campaign, which included 33 million impressions in total, 4 million
engagements -- including reactions, comments, retweets, shares and replies -- as well as 43,000 new followers with the most significant peak on the 21 December, when the campaign went viral. They stated a large number of people found the campaign
to be humorous, engaging, and in line with what it meant to be British.
They stated they did not intend to offend anyone.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA understood the campaign was based on a toy elf, which resembled the popular children's Christmas tradition known as Elf on the Shelf, from the book of the same name. The elf was depicted in various scenarios where he
was shown to be behaving in a mischievous manner, with some images captioned with the hashtag #ElfBehavingBad. The overall campaign was based around puns and double entendres, which included sexual references.
Poundland's Facebook and Twitter pages were not age-gated and could therefore be seen by anyone. Although we did not consider they were likely to be of particular interest or appeal to children, we did not consider those who
were already following the pages would expect to see sexual or offensive content. We also noted the ads had been shared widely on social media and therefore would have been seen by a large number of people, including some children, who did not
actively follow Poundland on social media.
The image and caption in ad (a) depicting a pair of breasts drawn on a car windscreen and ad (f) which featured the elf beside a sketch of a penis-shaped tree were obvious sexual references that were shown to be drawn by the
toy elf. We considered ad (c)'s depiction of the elf thrusting a toothbrush between its legs to be interpreted as a sexual act. Ad (d)'s inclusion of the caption, my lightsaber is bigger than yours and the elf waving a vibrator were also obvious
references to sexual acts.
We considered ad (b), which depicted the elf and two unclothed female dolls placed in a sink filled with bubbles and the caption, A night of 'Selfies and chill, to be a play on the term Netflix and chill, which was a widely
known term implying sexual activity. We also noted ad (g), which featured an image of the toy elf wearing a dark moustache with the text FREE moustache rides, was an implied reference to oral sex. We considered ad (e), which featured the toy elf
placed on the toy donkey's back with the caption, Don't tell Rudolph I've found a new piece of ass, was a pun of a sexual nature.
We considered the depiction of a child's toy in relation to such sexual references and acts in a medium which could also be accessed by children was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence, therefore
breaching the Code.
We further noted ad (h), which featured a group of unclothed dolls playing what appeared to be strip poker captioned with the phrase I really want to poker, was a sexual reference aimed towards the female dolls. We also
considered ad (i), which featured the elf holding a tea bag between its legs with a female doll lying beneath it, was also a reference to a sexual act. Both ads (h) and (i) presented the female dolls in a manner which could be seen as demeaning to
women. We considered these ads were irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence by depicting a child's toy in relation to such sexual acts, therefore breaching the Code.
We therefore concluded the ads, which depicted the toy figures in a sexualised manner and appeared in an untargeted medium where they could be seen by children, were irresponsible and were likely to cause serious or
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Poundland Ltd to ensure that their advertising was presented with a sense of responsibility and did not cause serious or widespread offence.
Today we have unveiled the UK's top ten most complained about ads of 2017.
Among a total of 29,997 complaints received, today's Top 10 sets out the ads that provoked the greatest number of individual complaints. All the ads on 2017's list had one common thread -- they were all challenged on the grounds of offence.
This year, KFC's ad, featuring a chicken dancing to a rap soundtrack, received complaints that it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians, vegans and children and that it depicted a chicken who was heading for slaughter. We
ruled it was unlikely that the ad would cause distress or serious or widespread offence as there were no explicit references to animal slaughter.
2. Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 455 Complaints - Not upheld
This Moneysupermarket.com ad campaign also featured in the ASA's Top Ten list for 2015 and 2016. Like many of the ads in the same campaign, 2017's ad re-featured the two #epicsquads -- the strutters and the builders -- and a new female character.
Many found the ad to be offensive on the grounds that it was overtly sexual and possibly homophobic. We thought the character's movements would generally be seen as dance moves and not in a sexual context. We also thought most viewers would
recognise the ad's intended take on humour. We ruled it was unlikely to condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour.
3. Unilever UK Ltd (Dove) 391 Complaints - Not investigated; ads removed
Dove produced a series of ads that contained statistics and opinions about breastfeeding in public. The ads were featured across magazines, social media, and Dove's own website. Many criticised the language, such as "put them away", as
it might encourage criticism of breastfeeding. Some were also concerned that the ads might encourage neglecting crying babies. After listening to the public, Dove issued an apology and subsequently pulled the ads and amended their website.
4. Match.com International Ltd 293 Complaints - Not upheld
Match.com's ad, starring a lesbian couple kissing passionately, appears again in our list of most complained about ads. We received similar complaints last year, when it was number three on our list, about whether the ad was too sexually explicit
for children to see. We ruled then that the ad did not cross the line. Over the two years, the ad has attracted almost 1,200 complaints.
McDonald's produced a TV ad featuring a boy and his mother talking about his dead father. From the conversation, the boy became visibly upset as he found few similarities between him and the father that his mother described. Ultimately, he found
comfort when she told him that both he and his father loved McDonald's Filet-O-Fish burger. The ad attracted criticism that it was trivialising grief, was likely to cause distress to those who have experienced a close family death and was
distasteful to compare an emotive theme to a fast food promotion. The fast food chain issued an apology and pulled the ads.
6. RB UK Commercial Ltd (V.I.Poo) 207 complaints - Not upheld
A fictional Hollywood starlet shares her best kept secret on how to maintain good toilet etiquette -- by using the V.I.Poo spray, an air freshener. Many people found the discussion of going to the toilet unsavoury. We ruled that the ad was a
light-hearted way of introducing the product and we didn't consider its reference to the "devil's dumplings" likely to break our rules on offence.
7. DSG Retail Ltd (Currys PC World) 131 Complaints - Not upheld
This was a TV ad about spending Christmas in front of the TV. The Currys PC World ad showed a set of parents telling their children that they would like to celebrate Christmas "traditionally" this year by sitting by the fire, singing
carols and having long conversations. The mother then laughed at the visibly upset children and explained it was a joke. She led the family to the next room to show them a new Oleg TV that her employer, Currys PC World, had allowed her to bring
home and test. Complainants believed the ad was offensive because it promoted materialism and equated Christmas with watching TV instead of Christianity.
We thought the ad was light-hearted and was meant to be humorous. We understood the allusions to consumerism might be perceived to be in bad taste by some, but considered it was unlikely to cause serious offence. The ad did not ridicule or
denigrate Christians or Christianity, so was unlikely to offend on those grounds.
8. Telefonica Ltd (O2) 125 Complaints - Not upheld
O2's ad about free screen replacements stirred complaints when it featured two men kissing and breaking one of the couple's phone screens when he was pressed onto a table by the other man. Many felt the scene was too sexually explicit and
scheduled inappropriately at times when children were likely to be watching. Some also felt the portrayal of a same-sex relationship was offensive to their religious beliefs.
We noted that the scene in question was brief and did not contain any graphic or overly sexual imagery. We ruled that it did not require a scheduling restriction and the depiction of a gay couple would not cause serious or widespread offence.
9. Macmillan Cancer Support 116 Complaints - Not upheld
A TV ad for Macmillan Cancer Support included fast-moving scenes of a father talking to his daughter, receiving chemotherapy, vomiting in a sink, sitting slumped in a bath, and crying in a car before being comforted by a nurse. People complained
that the imagery was overly graphic and distressing to viewers. Though we understood some of the scenes, particularly the one in which the man vomited, were distressing to some viewers, we believed they served to illustrate the reality of living
with cancer. The storyline of the ad and the service that Macmillan Cancer Support was advertising provided context. We believed it addressed the serious nature of the illness appropriately. Furthermore, scheduling restrictions meant it wouldn't
be shown around children's programmes.
10. Mars Chocolate UK Ltd (Maltesers) 92 Complaints - Not upheld
And finally, Maltesers appears in ASA's top 10 list for a second year.
Many continued to find the featured woman, who described having a spasm during a romantic encounter with her boyfriend, to be offensive and overly sexual. Some also felt it was offensive to portray the woman, who was in a wheelchair, in this
The ad had already been given a post-9pm scheduling restriction, which we considered sufficient as most viewers are aware that advertising content after 9pm might include more adult themes. In instances when the ad was seen earlier in the day, the
ad was seen around adult-themed programmes, such as Made in Chelsea and The Inbetweeners , and was unlikely to be considered to have been inappropriately scheduled.
We found the women's conversation to be light-hearted and didn't think the allusion to the woman's romantic encounter would cause serious or widespread offence. On the matter of portraying the woman in a wheelchair in this manner, we believed the
ad was championing diversity and did not think that it denigrated or degraded those with disabilities.
Last September the adverts at ASA rightfully laid into adverts for several gambling firms that suggested that gambling could be a way for
The adverts were not placed by the companies themselves, but by independent affiliates who are paid by commissions on sales, and are not under editorial control of the gambling company.
ASA made the case that the gambling companies were ultimately responsible for the advertising placed by affiliates. There is a valid rationale behind this line of thinking, because the gambling company is able to terminate their agreement with
affiliates who don't play ball. However this isn't really a practical way of controlling affiliates because reputational damage can be done before the company or censors become aware of bad advertising.
So of course the only available practical solution is to terminate the entire affiliate advertising model. And that is what has resulted from the ASA decision. The online casino 888 has sent out emails to its affiliates stating they must no longer
target UK traffic and 888 would no longer pay them commission for newly generated players. The affiliates were told:
As you may be aware the regulatory landscape for affiliates is constantly changing and evolving, especially in the UK. In order to help ensure that we work with our affiliate partners in a compliant manner, we are seeking to exert greater control
on the traffic which is generated from the UK.
As a result, from January 29th 2018, you must not target UK IP addresses and/or any persons located in the UK. Therefore, we shall no longer pay you any commission with regard to money players in the UK which you generate.
888 told iGamingBusiness:
888 takes the issue of responsible gaming very seriously and has taken a number steps to ensure its marketing complies with the Gambling Commission's LCCP and ASA's advertising codes.
It is interesting to note that ASA now uses American spellings in preference to UK English spellings
Two Facebook posts for the Buck Inn, a pub in Darlington:
a. The first post, dated 8 September 2017, stated German Grub Night at The Buck Inn Dont mention ze war!. The post included an image of a poster titled german night with text stating Set 3 Course Meal Including Popular German Dishes 2£19.95pp,
Graham Ze Chef, Don't Mention Ze War!. The poster also showed a black and white image depicting a uniformed Nazi soldier performing a Nazi salute with the right arm, and a swastika on the left sleeve. A smiling, caricature-style, sketched image of
the face the chef had been superimposed on to the Nazi soldier. The text font of the headline german night and colour scheme in the poster also resembled the stylisation and colours typical of Nazi imagery.
b. The second post, dated 12 September 2017, showed that the Buck Inn had updated their Facebook profile picture to an image of a newspaper article about the german night poster. The article featured an image of the poster and was titled Pub's
German night 'Nazi' poster criticised. The Buck Inn had also liked a number of comments by other individuals on their Facebook page in relation to the posts.
Three complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive.
The Buck Inn said that Dont mention ze war was a quote from Fawlty Towers and the use of this phrase in the ad, in conjunction with a cartoon image of their chef's head on a German soldier, was intended to be light hearted and humorous. They said
that the poster advertised a German cuisine night and that the design of the ad was inspired by the comedy in this particular episode of Fawlty Towers. They also stated they were not promoting the Nazi party in the ad and it was not intended to
mock the Second World War in any way.
The Buck Inn also said that the ad was seen on Facebook by over 500,000 people, and the fact that only three complaints were received indicated most people had interpreted the ad in the way they had intended.
With regard to the Buck Inn liking a number of comments by other individuals on their Facebook page, they said they liked every comment by users on their page as they considered that it helped to improve their interaction with consumers on
Facebook and that the users would be more likely to see the their future Facebook posts.
ASA Decision: Complaints upheld
The ASA acknowledged the phrase Don't mention the war was a fairly well known quote from the sitcom Fawlty Towers. However, we considered that the use of an image of a Nazi soldier wearing a swastika and performing a Nazi salute to advertise the
pub's German cuisine night, in a humorous tone, was inappropriate and trivialised the events of the Second World War and actions of the German Nazi party. Furthermore, the ad appeared to link German culture intrinsically with Nazi Germany and the
war. We therefore considered that ad (a) was likely to cause serious or widespread offense.
We also considered that the Buck Inn's activity on Facebook in ad (b) trivialised the reported offense that ad (a) was likely to cause, particularly in the use of the newspaper article as a Facebook profile picture. In particular we considered
that the Buck Inn's liking of various comments by other users on their Facebook page, many of which contained distasteful jokes and puns in reference to the Holocaust, was also likely to cause serious or widespread offense.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told the Buck Inn to ensure that they did not cause serious or widespread offence by using Nazi references or imagery in their advertising, or by trivialising the events of the Second World
War and actions of the German Nazi party. We also told the Buck Inn to ensure that comments made by other users on their Facebook page, which in themselves were likely to cause serious or widespread offense, were not liked.
CAP is a subgroup of the advert censors at ASA that writes the rules for general advertising. BCAP is a similar group tasked with the rules for adverts broadcast on TV and radio. ASA has announced a new rule described as follows:
Following public consultation, and a six-month implementation period, CAP and BCAP's stricter rules prohibiting the sexual portrayal or sexual representation of under-18s (and those who appear to be under 18) in advertising have come into force
The new rules are:
New CAP Code rule:4.8 Marketing communications must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way. However, this rule does not apply to marketing communications whose principal function is to promote the welfare
of, or to prevent harm to, under-18s, provided any sexual portrayal or representation is not excessive.
New BCAP Code rule to replace rule 5.5:4.13 Advertisements must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way. However, this rule does not apply to advertisements whose principal function is to promote the
welfare of, or to prevent harm to, under-18s, provided any sexual portrayal or representation is not excessive.
THE UK's advert censor ASA has launched an investigation into Poundland's X-rated Christmas elf campaign.
A few miserable gits have whinged about a series of Twitter ads showing a naughty elf in various sexual poses.
ASA has confirmed it has launched an investigation into the ads after receiving 80 complaints that the adverts were offensive and not suitable to be seen by children.
One advert showed a picture of the elf standing over a female doll and asking: How do you like your tea? One lump or two?
The pic also featured a box of Twinnings Classic teabags, with the company accusing Poundland of misusing its product.
A Poundland spokesperson wittily told The Sun Online:
This is a storm in a tea cup.
It is actually 23 complaints contrasted with the thousands of people who said they loved our naughty elf pictures - not least because it reminded them that Britain is famous for the saucy postcard and panto.
Other pics show elf playing strip poker with a group of naked dolls, drawing a Christmas tree that looks suspiciously like a man's penis, and riding a cuddly toy donkey with the caption Don't tell Rudolph I've found a new piece of ass.
ASA bans Captain Morgan rum advert, unusually on own accord without a cited public complaint. ASA also decides that an 18+ age registered on Snapchat is not reliable enough for alcohol advert targeting
A Snapchat lens advertising Captain Morgan, seen in June 2017, included a
cartoon icon of a pirate. The lens, which made the user's face look like Captain Morgan, featured two glasses of a mixed alcoholic drink clinking together on screen, a seagull that flew a scroll on to the screen, which said Live like the Captain,
a voice-over that said Captain and the sound of people cheering.
The ASA challenged whether the lense was:
of particular appeal to people under 18
directed at people under 18.
Snap Inc said in the UK they only directed alcohol advertising to users who provided a date of birth which showed them to be over 18 and that at the time the lens ran, they could only target lenses by age and geolocation.
CAP Code rule 18.14 18.14 Marketing communications must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They should not feature or portray real or
fictitious characters who are likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 in a way that might encourage the young to drink. People shown drinking or playing a significant role (see rule 18.16) should not be shown behaving in an adolescent or
juvenile manner. required that alcohol ads were not likely to appeal particularly to under 18s. We noted that the lens icon which appeared in the Snapchat user's carousel was of a cartoon pirate and that in order to use the lens the user would
need to click the icon. We considered that the icon was a bright, child-like cartoon image which we noted was similar in style to the other icons for non-paid for Snapchat lenses. In that context, we considered that the icon image of a cartoon
pirate was of particular appeal to under 18s.
The lens, which appeared when the icon was scrolled onto, presented the user with an augmented reality which manipulated their environment. That included the user's face appearing like Captain Morgan, a seagull flying across
the screen with a scroll which read Live like the Captain and two glasses which clinked in front of the user's face. Further, the lens was accompanied by a male voice which said Captain? Captain! with further animated high-pitched voices cheering
and repeating the word Captain. We noted that the lens did not, however, use particularly bright colours, but it did age and add a beard to the user's face which we considered was of comedic effect. Taken together with the lens icon, we considered
that the specific interactive and augmented elements of the lens, such as the user's face being made to look like a buccaneer, the clinking glasses, references to Captain and the cheering, were likely to appeal particularly to those under 18.
We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The CAP Code required that marketing communications for alcoholic drinks must not be directed at people under 18 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise
alcoholic drinks if more than 25% of its audience was under 18 years of age.
The lens was delivered directly to users who were logged into accounts with a registered age of 18 or older, and who were in certain locations. Because the ad was targeted at a defined set of users, we did not consider it
relevant that less than 25% of the total platform audience was under 18. We therefore considered whether the ad had been directed at people under 18 through the selection of media (i.e. the Snapchat lens).
We understood that at the time the lens ran Snap Inc. were only able to target lenses by a user's age group and geolocation. We understood that Captain Morgan had chosen for the lens to target users who were registered as
being over 18 and in the UK. Snap Inc. shared confidential data with us about their UK audience. From their response, we understood that a significant minority of UK based Snapchat users were registered as being between 13 and 17 years old and
that they represented one of the largest groups of their total UK audience. We also noted separately that research undertaken by Ofcom showed that out of a group of 343 of those aged 12--15 years who had reported that they had a social media
account, the proportion who said they had a Snapchat account increased from 51% in 2016 to 58% in 2017. We also noted that a large number of the total population of 13- to 17-year olds in the UK had Snapchat accounts. From the above, we considered
that Snapchat was popular amongst younger audiences.
We understood that the minimum age for a person to have an account with Snapchat was 13. Research undertaken by Ofcom in 2016 showed that out of a group of 104 of those aged 8--11 years who had social media accounts, 34% had
Snapchat profiles. The 2017 Ofcom report stated that in the group of test subjects there were too few social media users aged 3--11years old to report on individual sites in detail. The data in the 2016 report did not give any indication of the
age those users claimed to be when they signed up, including whether they were registered as 18 or over and therefore would have been able to access the lens through their account. We considered that the report was indicative that at least some of
the audience of children on Snapchat were younger than the minimum age of 13 years old. We considered that this called into question the adequacy of self-reported age as the sole means of targeting alcohol advertising on Snapchat.
We noted that Snap Inc. had reported that it now had the means to target ads to specific audiences using Audience Lenses, including by way of inferring the audience age using interest based factors. However, at the time the
lens ran, the only targeting data available to Diageo on Snapchat was unverified supplied ages collected when users signed up and geolocation information. We considered that because the platform was popular with under 18s, that was not sufficient
to ensure that marketing communications were not targeted at people under 18. We therefore concluded that through the selection of media, Captain Morgan had not taken sufficient care to ensure that the ad was not directed at people under 18 and
therefore the ad breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Captain Morgan to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted in the future and that they were not of particular appeal to under 18s.
Update: Diageo pulls all worldwide advertising from Snapchat
ASA has surely opened a bag of worms if it has recognised that age statements are worthless in the world of social media. The censors are surely correct, but this means an awful lot of advertising throughout an entire industry is now porbably
Diageo responded to ASA's censorship noting that took reasonable steps to make sure its Snapchat ads were not seen by anyone under the
age of 18, and that it had snow totally uspended advertising with Snapchat. A spokeswoman said:
We have a strict marketing code, take our role as a responsible marketer very seriously and acknowledge the ASA's ruling. We took all reasonable steps to ensure the content we put on Snapchat was not directed at under 18s - using the data
provided to us by Snapchat and applying an age filter.
We have now stopped all advertising on Snapchat globally whilst we assess the incremental age verification safeguards that Snapchat are implementing.