A poster for 4Play Adult Store, which appeared near a bus stop in Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear,
was seen on 25 April 2017. The ad contained text that stated 4play adult store ... Use our new Click & Collect service to receive an additional 10% Discount. The ad also featured an image of a woman dressed in purple bra, knickers,
suspenders and stockings. She was reclining on her side with her arm raised and her hand touching her head.
A complainant, who believed that the ad was unsuitable for display where children could see it, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that the model featured in the ad was in a reclining pose that accentuated her chest and hips. The model's hair appeared tousled, her lips were slightly parted and she had a sultry facial expression. Although the model was
wearing a matching lingerie set, we noted that it was not overtly revealing and the ad did not show any nudity. We noted that the name of the shop was a play on words and acknowledged that some might find the name distasteful, but
considered that the pun was unlikely to be understood by most children. We also acknowledged that some might find the products sold by the shop distasteful, but noted that such products could be advertised as long as ads complied with the
Code and were not irresponsible, harmful or offensive in their presentation.
Notwithstanding the nature of the products sold by Damcott, we considered that the image featured was sensual, and the ad overall was sexually suggestive but not explicit. The size of the poster and the location on a main high street meant
that it was likely to attract some attention. Although we understood that the ad in question did not have a placement restriction, we noted that it had been placed more than 100m away from schools located in the area. We therefore
considered that the ad had not been inappropriately placed and that it was not irresponsible.
Two digital outdoor ads displayed on large screens in two stations in central London, for the film Alien: Covenant, seen in early May 2017:
a. The first ad began with a spacecraft approaching a planet followed by scenes on the planet. In one scene a man in a dark room shined a torch on an alien egg, the top of which began to slowly open. A close-up showed an alien-like mouth
suddenly exploding from it, towards the camera. A woman in distress was then shown running down a corridor, being chase by an arachnid-like alien, followed by a close-up of her screaming. An arachnid-like alien was then shown running
towards the camera. The final shot showed a woman hiding from an alien which was just on the other side of a door frame.
b. The second ad featured large on-screen text which stated in turn: RUN, HIDE, SCREAM and PRAY. The text appeared next to brief clips from the film, including the scene with the woman in distress running down a corridor being chased by an
alien, the alien egg slowly opening, the close-up of the woman screaming, a woman looking panicked and shouting through the glass window in a closed door, the close-up of the alien-like mouth suddenly exploding towards the camera, and the
final shot of a woman hiding from an alien which was just on the other side of a door frame.
Three complainants, one of whose children had seen the ads, challenged whether the ads were likely to cause fear or distress, and whether they were suitable to be shown in an untargeted medium.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA understood the film was rated as a 15 by the BBFC and considered that the advertiser should therefore have taken particular care to ensure that scenes included in the ads would be suitable to be shown in a public space where
children were likely to be present.
The ads contained scenes of characters who were clearly in distress, as well as images of an alien mouth suddenly exploding from an egg out towards the viewer, and a woman being chased by an alien. We considered those scenes were likely to
frighten and cause distress to some children and that the ads were likely to catch their attention, particularly as they were shown on large screens. We concluded the ads were not suitable to be shown in an untargeted public medium and
therefore breached the Code.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Twentieth Century Fox Film Company Ltd to target their ads more carefully in future to avoid the risk of causing undue fear and distress to children.
A product listing on www.ratandboa.com, for The Christy Skirt, seen on 2 March 2017, which featured an image of a woman from the neck down wearing a top that partially exposed her breasts and revealed a nipple piercing.
A complainant challenged whether the image was offensive, because it was highly sexualised and objectified women.
Rat and Boa Ltd stated that while the image may have been distasteful to the individual complainant, the Code stated that this was not enough in itself to find a breach. They said that there was nothing in the ad to suggest anything that
would otherwise breach any other parts of the Code.
They explained that the woman in the photo was the co-founder of Rat and Boa and she had undertaken the shoot with her own free will and expression of artistic license. They stated that it was unreasonable to suggest that she would
objectify women or herself.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA noted that the image was cut-off at the model's shoulders and her breasts were partially exposed, revealing a nipple piercing. One hand was placed on the waist band of the skirt, pulling it down to show her lower abdomen. We
considered that the image was gratuitous and sexually provocative, because the model's pose emphasised her breasts and torso, rather than the product itself.
We concluded that, by using a sexualised image of a woman, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Rat and Boa Ltd to ensure that their future ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Two posts on the promoter's Facebook page advertising his Coco Beach Monday's club night at Lola Lo nightclub
a. A post seen on their own Facebook page on 13 April 2017 included a picture of a female with her head titled back, her mouth wide open, her tongue extended out of her mouth and liquid being dropped in her eye with the accompanying text
FREE BUBBLY & VIP FOR GROUPS DISCOUNTED DRINKS & BIG TUNES ALL NIGHT.
b. An event invite for the Coco Beach Mondays club night seen on the complainants Facebook feed on 13 April 2017 included the same picture as above with the accompanying text Nice artwork 206 haha leaving to the imagination whats [sic]
out of shot!.Issue
The ASA challenged whether the ads:
1. linked alcohol with sexual activity; and
2. featured alcohol being served irresponsibly.
The ASA also received two complaints:
3. Both complainants believed that the image was sexually explicit and objectified women and challenged whether the ads were offensive.
ASA Assessment: complaints upheld
The ASA was concerned by Coco Beach Monday's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, and ruled that they had breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a
substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
We considered that the way the model was posed with her head titled back, her mouth wide open with her tongue extended out and the liquid being poured out of shot, meant that the image was inherently sexual in nature. We considered that
although the exact type of liquid being poured in to the models eye was not revealed in the image, it was heavily implied to be alcohol. Further, the text contained in the image promoted free bubbly and discounted drinks available at the
club night. We therefore considered that because the image used in the ads was inherently sexual in nature and the text promoted free alcohol at the event, that it linked alcohol with sexual activity and therefore breached the Code.
The ads demonstrated alcohol being administered through the eyeball, known as eyeballing. This method of alcohol consumption had associated health risks. We concluded that the ads portrayed a style of drinking that was unwise and showed
alcohol being handled irresponsibly and therefore was in breach of the Code.
We considered the image used in the ads to be sexually gratuitous and provocative, and that it mimicked the style of facial pornography. This was further emphasised in ad (b) by the accompanying comment, which stated that the Facebook user
should imagine where the liquid came from. We considered that the image that appeared in both ads, taken together with the sexually suggestive comment that accompanied ad (b), objectified women. We therefore considered that the ads were
sexist and likely to cause serious wide spread offence.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Coco Beach Monday's to ensure their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society, and to ensure they did not link alcohol to sexual
activity or to show alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly. Further, we told them that they should ensure their ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
,ASA have published a report Depictions, Perceptions and Harm
arguing for stronger censorship of ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which the ASA claims might be harmful to people, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes. ASA wrote in a press
Responding to the evidence, our sister body, CAP -- the authors of the UK Advertising Codes - will develop new standards on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics. We will then administer and enforce those standards. CAP
will also use the evidence in the report to clarify standards that reflect our existing position on ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualise people or suggest it is acceptable to be unhealthily-thin.
The announcement comes at the conclusion of a major review into gender stereotyping in ads, with evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. These
stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes, with costs for individuals, the economy and society.
The aim of the review has been to consider whether regulation is doing enough to address the potential for harm or offence arising from gender stereotypes in ads. We have a track record of banning ads on grounds of objectification, inappropriate
sexualisation and for suggesting it is desirable for young women to be unhealthily thin. But we have ruled that ads that feature gender stereotypical roles or characters are unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to their audience.
To test whether standards are in the right place, the review examined gender stereotyping across several spheres, including body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles, and mocking people for not conforming to
gender stereotypes. To reach conclusions, evidence was gathered through a major independent research study by GfK -- the findings of which are also published today - alongside a wide-ranging consultation of expert stakeholders.
The key findings are these:
- The evidence shows support for the ASA's track record of banning ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualize people, and ads which suggest that it's acceptable for young women to be unhealthily thin
- But a tougher line is needed on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which can potentially cause harm, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes
The report indicates that the latter should be considered on grounds of potential harm to the audience, banning those gender stereotypes that are most likely to reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others
New standards are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes. For example, the evidence falls short of calling for a ban on ads depicting a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks. But, subject to context and content considerations, the
evidence suggests the following types of depictions are likely to be problematic:
- An ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up
- An ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa
- An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks
CAP will report publically on its progress before the end of 2017 and commits, as always, to delivering training and advice on the new standards in good time before they come into force in 2018.
Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said:
Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people. While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, tougher
advertising standards can play an important role in tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for individuals, the economy and society as a whole.
Ella Smillie, lead report author, said:
Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children. Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take. Tougher standards
in the areas we've identified will address harms and ensure that modern society is better represented."
A Video on Demand (VOD) ad for Femfresh bikini line shaving products, seen on ITV Player and 4oD in March and April 2017, featured several women, who were wearing briefs and swimwear, dancing. It included multiple close-up shots of the women's
Seventeen complainants, who believed that the ad objectified women and portrayed them in an overly sexualised way, objected that it was offensive and socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that Church & Dwight had received advice from Clearcast, which set out Clearcast's view that the ad was OK for VOD. However, we noted that the advertiser had primary responsibility for ensuring that VOD ads complied with the CAP
The ad promoted products for shaving the bikini line, and given their intended use, it was relevant for the ad to focus on that area of the body and show women wearing swimwear and fitness wear that exposed it. We also noted that many of the dance
moves used in the routine reflected those that might be seen in some exercise classes. However, overall we considered that the dance sequence was highly sexualised, in the style of a music video, and featured many thrusting dance moves. The ad
focused to a large extent on the women's crotches, with relatively few shots of their faces, and some of them wore high-cut swimsuits that were more exposing than many swimsuits. Even taking into account the nature of the product, we considered
that it had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that objectified women. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and therefore breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Church & Dwight Ltd not to use advertising that objectified women and which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to promote their products.
a. A virtual tour link for a bathroom installation on www.hdsbuilders.co.uk, seen on 21 March 2017, featured an image of a naked woman showering.
b. A still image from the virtual tour, showing the naked woman, with the option to click on the tour, was seen on the home page of www.wetroomswales.co.uk on 15 May 2017.
A complainant challenged whether the image of the naked woman in ads (a) and (b) was offensive and unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium.
HDS Builders said people did not shower wearing clothing and therefore the image of the naked woman showering was appropriate for a virtual tour of a bathroom installation. They appreciated that some people might not find the image acceptable, but
no intimate body parts were visible and they did not believe it was indecent.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that someone using a shower would be naked, but considered that it was not essential to use such an image in order to explain how a shower worked or to highlight a bathroom installation. Although the image had some relevancy
to a bathroom and shower, we nonetheless considered it was likely to be seen as sexist and to demean women by using their physical features for no other reason than to draw attention to the advertising.
The woman was fully nude, shown full length side on, with her bottom sticking out, her back arched and with some of her breast visible under her folded arms. In light of the nudity, we considered the pose was provocative and could be seen to be
sexually suggestive with the tone further enhanced in the virtual tour in ad (a) because it was possible to freeze the image, zoom in and out and change the angle.
We considered that, because the websites were for a builder, consumers would not expect to see a naked woman either on the home page of ad (b) or at the start of the virtual tour in ads (a) and (b), and the image had the potential to be seen by
many people who were likely to find it offensive.
We therefore concluded that the ads were inappropriately targeted and, because of the amount of nudity and the woman's sexually provocative pose, the image was likely to cause serious offence.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HDS Builders not to use similar images in its advertising in future.