A poster for Quiz Clothing, a clothing retailer, seen in June 2017. The ad depicted a young woman wearing ripped jeans and
a bardot-style top, who was sitting in the window of an ice cream van and licking an ice cream.
Two complainants, who both believed the ad appeared to sexualise a child, objected that the ad was irresponsible.
Tarak International Ltd t/a Quiz Clothing said they were sorry that the image had caused discomfort, and that no offence was ever intended, nor was the advert meant to be perceived as sexually explicit. They said their Lost in Summer campaign
centred around the fun, everyday activities enjoyed by their consumers during the summer months, and that the ad was relevant to that concept. They said the model in the image was 25 years old at the time of shooting and the thought of
sexualisation was never in consideration, nor was it ever intentionally implied.
To avoid any further issues, they had taken steps to remove the image from their digital channels, and the one remaining ad on an outdoor poster site was being taken down. They said they had no plans to use the image again in the future.
Exterion Media said they had reviewed the ad based on their guidelines and did not feel that the model would be considered to be a child or that the image was of a sexual nature.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the model was 25 at the time the photograph was taken. While the model did appear youthful, she did not appear to be under the age of 16.
We noted that the ad did not feature any explicit sexual references or nudity. The model was sitting with her legs apart, and we considered that this, combined with the fact that she was staring at the camera and licking an ice cream could be seen
by some as sexually suggestive. However, we considered that the model's overall pose and expression were not sexually provocative, and the ad was therefore likely to be seen as no more than mildly sexual.
Given the above, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as sexualising children or be seen to be irresponsible.
David Currie has become the new Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
David is an accomplished regulator, having acted as the inaugural Chairman of both Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). He sits in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. As Chairman he will lead the 13 member ASA Council, Board
of the ASA and the body that rules on whether to uphold complaints about ads.
The ASA Council also oversees much of the regulator's pro-active work, with recent initiatives including: tougher standards on broadband prices in ads to ensure consumers aren't misled; research into how consumers understand was and now prices to
establish whether more needs to be done to avoid misleadingness; a commitment to new standards to remove harmful gender stereotypes in ads from 2018.
David Currie, incoming ASA Chairman said:
The vast majority of ads in the UK are responsible, but where an ad is misleading, harmful or offensive the ASA is here to put it right. As I take up the chairmanship of the ASA, newer forms of online advertising continue to gain ground,
including native and influencer ads and those whose targeting is based on consumers' preferences. Across all of these spheres, as well as in the traditional media, the ASA's mission remains the same -- to make every UK ad a responsible ad .
Chris Smith, originally a Labour politician, has stepped down after 10 years as chairman of the advert censors at ASA.
No doubt he has done sterling work on sorting out fraudulent and misleading claims. But when it comes to censoring politically incorrect adverts, he has suffered 'widespread offence' so many times, that he must be a jibbering wreck.
Complaints to the ASA in the first half of 2017 show that TV continues to be the most complained about advertising medium with 5,127 complaints about 2,272 ads. Online ads are a close second (4,062 complaints), with more individual ads (3,852)
complained about than any other medium.
In total, we received 13,131 complaints (19.8% fewer than last year) about 9,486 ads (January - June). As a result of our work, we have secured the amendment or withdrawal of 3,034 ads over the six month period (up 88% compared to the first half
of 2016, itself a record year).
Misleading ads continue to prompt the most complaints 8,195 (62%) and represent the bulk of the ASA's workload (accounting for 76% of cases).
There is a clear difference between TV and online ads in terms of the issues that prompt public concern: The majority of complaints about TV ads are on the grounds of offence (3,439) rather than misleadingness (1,677); while the majority of
complaints about online ads concern misleadingness (3,673) rather than harm and offence (360).
The reasons for these trends are explained by the differences in audience size and viewing habits for the two media, as well as the pre-clearance checks in place for TV. A large proportion of potentially misleading claims in TV ads are stopped
before they're broadcast.
The new figures show that men continue to complain more about ads than women (59% to 38%). In total, men lodged 7,729 complaints compared to 5,031 by women. There are also marked differences in the kind of ads complained about, with women
complaining more about harm and offence (F: 56% v M: 44%) while men complain more about misleadingness (M: 70% v F: 30%).
And presumably as a bit of a carrot for newspapers to print an article about the importance of ASA, the advert censor provided the top 3 most complained about adverts for the period:
The Moneysupermarket dance-off ads featuring a man called Dave wearing denim cutoffs and heels received the most complaints, 455, with viewers objecting that it was offensive and overtly sexual, possibly homophobic and having the potential to
encourage hate crimes.
Match.com's ad showing a woman removing her partner's top and passionately kissing her drew the second-highest number of complaints at 293.
McDonald's swiftly pulled its poorly received campaign featuring a mother helping her son grieve for his father while sitting in one of the chain's restaurants, but not before viewers lodged 255 complaints that it exploited child bereavement to
sell fast food.
A press ad by Paddy Power bookmakers, seen in the 23 August 2017 edition of the Evening Standard and
the 24 August 2017 edition of the Metro, featured the headline claim ALWAYS BET ON BLACK alongside an image of Floyd Mayweather. Further text stated WE'VE PAID OUT EARLY ON A MAYWEATHER VICTORY BECAUSE WE CHECKED, AND ONLY ONE OF THEM IS A BOXER.
Nine complainants, who considered that the headline contained an obvious reference to Floyd Mayweather's race, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Power Leisure Bookmakers Ltd t/a Paddy Power said the ad was not intended to cause offence on the grounds of race. They said the headline was a gambling related pun as the fight was taking place in Las Vegas and betting on black was a roulette
reference. They acknowledged that the headline referred to Floyd Mayweather's race, but said it was not used in a derogatory, distasteful or offensive manner and the overall tone of the ad was light-hearted and humorous. They said the early pay
out was not based on Floyd Mayweather's race but on his experience as a professional boxer compared with Conor McGregor who had never boxed professionally.
Paddy Power said the campaign was approved by Floyd Mayweather who found the line funny, rather than offensive or derogatory. The phrase always bet on black was embroidered on the underwear Floyd Mayweather's wore at the official weigh-in for the
match in Las Vegas. Floyd Mayweather also posted an image of himself wearing the underwear on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #alwaysbetonblack, which was not part of the sponsorship deal.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The CAP Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and for particular care to be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race. The ad appeared in the sports
section of two free untargeted newspapers, and was therefore likely to have been seen by a wide-range of people. It featured the prominent headline Always Bet on Black, alongside an image of the boxer Floyd Mayweather, who was a black male. We
considered that readers would interpret the headline to be a pun on Floyd Mayweather's race and betting on roulette. We understood that the headline was also intended to be a reference to a 1992 film quote. There was, however, nothing further in
the ad which indicated that the headline was a film quote, and we considered that many readers would be unfamiliar with the quote.
We acknowledged that the headline claim did not make a negative statement about Floyd Mayweather's race and had endorsed him to win the match. We also acknowledged that Floyd Mayweather had authorised the claim. However, we considered that readers
would nevertheless be offended by the invitation to always bet on the outcome of a boxing match based on a boxer's race, and the message that the boxing match was a fight between two different races. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was
likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race.
We told Paddy Power to ensure they avoided causing serious offence on the grounds of race.
The advert censors of ASA banned a billboard for Over Farm's Frightmare Halloween event last year
after a child became distressed by it. The poster was outside a train station and depicted people in prosthetic monstrous make-up.
Now Over Farm has taken advantage of the ban to promote this year's Frightmare by slapping a 'censored' banner across last years poster.
The 2016 advert featured images of a monstrous man and woman, and a sinister character holding a chainsaw in one hand with a decapitated head in the other.
Matt Keene, partner at Over Farm, said:
We apologise to anyone who has been disturbed by our advertisement. As the largest Halloween festival in the south west, we're committed to ensuring that this year's Frightmare is as heart-stoppingly horrifying as possible, and we admit that we
may have outdone ourselves last year. We are, however, working hard to minimize any additional angst within the community.
The event starts on Friday October 6 and continues throughout the month.
A tweet from the Bank's [sic] Beer twitter account, dated 12 April 2017, stated Easter is on it's [ASA's
sic] way #easter #beer #tellitlikeitis #Wolverhampton. The tweet contained an image which featured a graffiti painting on a wall of Jesus sitting on a bench with a halo above his head. The image showed Jesus wearing a rabbit costume with the head
taken off and placed on the bench. Below the bench was a basket filled with Easter eggs. Next to the bench was a pint glass branded with text which stated BANK'S TELL IT LIKE IT IS.
A complainant, who believed the image of Jesus in a rabbit costume trivialised Christianity, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that the tweet was posted during the Easter period and contained an image of Jesus wearing a rabbit costume. We acknowledged that the depiction of Jesus, and particularly the timing of the tweet, could be interpreted as distasteful
by some people of a Christian faith. However, we considered that most people would not find the portrayal of Jesus to be mocking or derogatory. Because we considered that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded
that it had not breached the Code.
The Bigger Drive Home
City Beat Preston, 8 June 2017, 18:35
City Beat Preston is a community radio station broadcasting in Preston, Lancashire.
The Bigger Drive Home is the station’s drive-time programme, broadcast every Monday to Thursday between 15:00 and 19:00.
Ofcom received a complaint about an edition of the programme broadcast on 8 June 2017 which referred to transgender people. Towards the end of the programme the presenter read out a list of people who were celebrating their birthdays on that date
and then said:
“And if you’re out and about having a few drinks tonight, don’t forget like I always tell you – if you are single and you meet somebody tonight, make sure you know exactly what they’re gonna be looking like in the morning. I know [another
CityBeat presenter], he does it all the time. Goes out, has a few beers, meets a girl and then wakes up in the morning and finds out it’s, er, a transgender. Ah! [laughter] Can I say that? ‘Course I can!”
Around two and a half minutes later, and following an advertising break, the presenter said:
“And by the way, I was only joking about transgenders and [another CityBeat presenter]”.
Ofcom considered Rule 2.3:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
Ofcom decision: Breach of rule 2.3
Ofcom considered whether the broadcast contained material which could be considered offensive. The presenter sought to make a joke by referring to a colleague’s experience with transgender people. We considered this had the effect of portraying
transgender people in a negative and derogatory way and therefore had the potential to be offensive.
We took into account that the presenter went on to say: “And by the way, I was only joking about transgenders and [another CityBeat presenter]”. In Ofcom’s view, this may have provided some limited mitigation to the potential offence. However, we
considered that the presenter’s use of the collective noun “transgenders” had further potential to cause offence.
Therefore, for the reasons outlined above, we considered that the content was in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
A paid-for Facebook post for carolgames.com's online game Blade of Queen, seen on 3 May 2017, stated Warning!
Please make sure your girlfriend is not by your side when playing-- [ Click to start ]. Beneath that was a 3D computer game image of a woman lying down and facing away from a camera. Text on blue buttons in the bottom left and right corners of the
image stated Fondle and Ravage.
A complainant, who believed the ad invited consumers to fantasise about committing sexual assault, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
ReadMob Technologies (Hong Kong) Ltd t/a carolgames.com did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA was concerned by carolgames.com's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a
breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
We considered the image of the woman, who was faced away from the viewer and seemed to be sleeping, implied fondle and ravage were non-consensual actions and therefore referred to acts of sexual assault. The text above the image which stated
Warning! Please make sure your girlfriend is not by your side when playing reinforced the impression that the user's actions were likely to be regarded by others as shameful or immoral.
We considered that referring to sexual assault in that manner in an ad for a video game trivialised and condoned sexual violence, and as such was likely to cause serious and widespread offence. We concluded the ad had not been prepared with a
sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told carolgames.com not to trivialise or condone sexual violence in their advertising, to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence, and to ensure they prepare ads with a
sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. We referred the matter to the CAP's Compliance Team.
Two TV ads and a cinema ad for online music service Spotify were seen between 28 April and 13 May 2017.
a. One TV ad showed a family at a dinner table. While the son was singing along to a song, the mother said (to camera) What he doesn't know is that he was made to this song. In this room. On this table.
b. The second TV ad showed a teenage girl outside a closed bedroom door. Music could be heard from within. The girl said Yep. Bieber's 'Love Yourself'. I think we all know what's going on in there.
c. The cinema ad was identical to ad (a).
The ASA received 81 complaints, raising one or more of the following issues:
164 complainants, most of whom saw the ad during Britain's Got Talent and Take Me Out on Saturday 29 April 2017, challenged whether ad (a) was offensive and unsuitable to be broadcast during programmes watched by children, because of the sexual
reference it contained.
18 complainants, who saw the ad during Britain's Got Talent on Saturday 6 May 2017, challenged whether ad (b) was offensive and unsuitable to be broadcast during a programme watched by children, because they believed it implied the person in the
bedroom was masturbating.
Two complainants, who saw ad (c) in the cinema before the film Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 April 2017, challenged whether the ad was offensive and unsuitable to be shown before a film whose audience was likely to
The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) said they considered the suggestive humour of the ad required only a minor restriction as its full meaning would not be understood by younger viewers who were not already aware of what it referred to. They
considered it was appropriate to keep sexually risque humour away from very young children but noted that the minors in the audience of a 12A film were likely to be older and have some knowledge of the facts of life. They accepted that that could
give rise to a minor degree of embarrassment between some parents and their children, but that that did not signify that the ad had caused serious or widespread offence.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. and 2. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that both ads contained implied sexual references. We considered, however, that the references were not explicit and were unlikely to be understood by young children. We noted that Clearcast had given the ads a scheduling
restriction to prevent them being broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children. The audience data bore out that, while the programmes had general appeal, they did not have
particular appeal to children. We therefore concluded that the ads were not offensive or unsuitable to be broadcast in breaks in those programmes at those times.
3. Not upheld
We acknowledged that the ad contained an implied sexual reference. We considered, however, that the reference was not explicit and was unlikely to be understood by young children. We acknowledged that the film would have children in the audience,
but we noted that those children were likely to be older or accompanied. Given the mild nature of the sexual reference, we therefore concluded that the ad was not offensive or unsuitable to be shown in that context.