Last month the advertising censors at the ASA banned a christian group, Healing on the Streets - Bath, from making nonsense claims about their healing services.
They censured a leaflet which stated:
NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY!
Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness?
We'd love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness.
Now MPs from the Christians in Parliament group are challenging the ASA decision. Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem), have written to Chris Smith, Chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency:
We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical
We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and
experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.
On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?
You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has
been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.
It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to
We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.
It seems that the Lib Dems were not impressed by their MP, Tim Farron, signing the letter.
Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron has now apologised for the wording of a letter which called for a ban on adverts that claimed God could heal sick people to be overturned, but stood by his belief that prayer could help.
Following the publication of the letter Farron apologised to Liberal Democrat members, many of whom disagreed with his decision to sign the letter. In a post on the grass-roots Liberal Democrat Voice website, Farron said it was not a
well-worded and that he should not have signed it as it was written . He said:
The reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don't believe in
For what it's worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn't have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some
of you in quite a difficult position.
A poster for Todd Insurance Broker featured a woman walking through an office, away from the camera. One side of the woman's dress was tucked into her underwear. Text next to the image stated What are the odds? Further text stated Life's full of little surprises. Make sure you're covered for Home, Car, Travel and Business Insurance
A complainant challenged whether the ad was:
offensive because it degraded and objectified women; and
irresponsible because it could be seen by children.
W Todd and Son Ltd did not believe that the poster was offensive or irresponsible. They said the poster was created by a female designer as part of a structured campaign that used the line, What are the odds? accompanied by an image of a
recognisable mishap. They said the campaign was intended to be quirky and fun and took a light-hearted approach to thinking about insurance. They added that there was a male version of the poster planned for later in the campaign.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the complainant's objections to the ad. We noted that the image in the ad showed the women's dress tucked into her underwear and that her underwear, bottom and legs were visible. However, we did not consider that the image was
sexually explicit. Neither did we consider the image, or the accompanying text, sexually suggestive. We considered that the image and the text What are the odds? was a play on a recognisable and embarrassing situation, but we did not
consider that the approach used in the poster degraded women or was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We considered that the ad was a light-hearted approach to thinking about the chances of little surprises happening in life.
Because we did not consider the poster sexually explicit or suggestive, or degrading to women, we considered that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also considered that it was suitable to be shown on a poster site that
could be seen by children. For these reasons we concluded that the poster had not breached the Code.
We investigated the poster under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and Offence) but did not find it in breach.
Claims on Bar Fusion's Facebook page, for a Christmas event at a bar, viewed on 9 December 2011, featured text which stated CHRISTMAS EVE WITH MIDGETS! FOR THE 1ST TIME IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS THIS CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY WITH OUR VERY OWN XMAS MIDGETS
that's right MIDGETS!!!!!!!!! ENTRY JUST £ 5 ALL NIGHT . Beneath this text was an image which included the text To you & friends, from Santa's club. December 24th. XMAS EVE With Our Xmas Midgets .
A complainant objected that:
the ad, and in particular the use of the word midgets , was offensive to short statured people; and
the ad was irresponsible, because it reinforced negative attitudes towards short statured people.
Bar Fusion said it was never their intention to cause offence and with hindsight they felt they must apologise for doing so. They said the night and artists were booked by an outside promoter who used the term. They therefore believed it was
acceptable to use the term and that it would not cause offence. They said once it become apparent that the ad had caused offence, they removed the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that Bar Fusion did not intend to use the ad in future. However, we noted the ad stated CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY WITH OUR VERY OWN XMAS MIDGETS that's right MIDGETS!!!!!!!!! and considered the ad
portrayed the presence of individuals of short stature as an attraction and source of entertainment. We therefore considered the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence. We also considered the ad promoted negative attitudes towards
individuals of short stature and was therefore irresponsible. On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bar Fusion to ensure that ads were prepared with a sense of social responsibility and did not cause serious or widespread offence in future.
A DVD case, sent as a direct mailing from a children's charity, viewed in December 2011, featured text which stated: KERRY'S FATHER ASKED HER TO DO THE UNTHINKABLE. AND THEN HE FILMED IT . The reverse of the box included the name and
address of the recipient and the NSPCC details. The leaflet, inside the DVD case, included further information about ChildLine and a donation form. The leaflet stated: THE FOOTAGE OF KERRY IS NOW WITH THE POLICE. AS IS HER FATHER. BECAUSE SHE
WAS ABLE TO TALK TO CHILDLINE .
Seven complainants objected that the text on the cover of the DVD case was disturbing and offensive.
One complainant objected that the text on the cover of the DVD case could cause distress to individuals who had suffered abuse.
One complainant objected that the DVD case was inappropriate for children to see.
The National Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said they relied on mailings generating a good level of response from donors and it was therefore important that the mailing stood out. They said the pack recounted the
experiences of two children and drew on real examples of the NSPCC's work. They said it was their policy to be truthful about their services and challenges faced by children and young people. They said the wording on the outside of the DVD case
did not contain details of the abuse that the child had suffered. The NSPCC said they made every effort to ensure that the mailing was addressed only to individuals over the age of 18 years.
ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted that the NSPCC aimed to raise awareness of the issue of child abuse and that such a distressing subject was likely to cause discomfort when presented in any medium. Nevertheless, we took the view that any discomfort inherent in the
subject of child abuse ought to be balanced by the worthwhile purpose of raising awareness of it. We considered that recipients were likely to understand the importance of the issue the mailing presented and that individuals who had suffered
abuse would be likely to appreciate the work of the NSPCC and the message contained within it.
We noted that the DVD case was personally addressed to the intended recipient and that the NSPCC logo appeared beneath the address. We also acknowledged that text on the front cover of the DVD did not provide details of the abuse that the child
In that context, we considered that the ad made clear its intended purpose, but was not likely to cause excessive distress or serious or widespread offence.
On points 1. & 2., we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it to be in breach.
We noted the complainant did not state that children had been distressed by the ad and that the NSPCC had attempted to ensure that the mailing was personally addressed only to individuals over the age of 18 years. We also noted the wording on the
outside of the DVD case did not contain specific details of the abuse the child had suffered and, whilst we considered that adults would understand the references on the DVD case, we considered it unlikely that children would.
Because the NSPCC had taken steps to target their mailing, and because children were unlikely to understand the message given by the text, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause harm to children and was not irresponsible.
On point 3, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) but did not find it to be in breach.
The owner of the Northampton Sofa King furniture has appealed an advert by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Last month, the ASA found an advert reading The Sofa King -- Where the prices are Sofa King Low! was supposedly likely to cause serious or widespread offence because it alluded to ''so fucking low'. The ASA claimed that the advertisement
alluded to a word so likely to offend that it should not be used in advertisements at all.
But Mark Kypta, who has run Sofa King and used the slogan for 10 years, has argued the decision was not consistent with similar cases, including the ASA's rejection of 52 complaints against Burger King advertisements in 2010.
In 2010, 52 complaints were made against a Burger King advertising campaign that used phrases such as king tasty , king delicious and no king parking . The ASA allowed the advertisements, stating they were unlikely to cause
serious or widespread offence because they did not contain any explicit bad language.
Kypta is arguing that this reasoning should apply to the Sofa King's advertising too.
An ad uploaded onto YouTube by Harvey Nichols, titled A Harvey Nichols Christmas 2011 - Ever Faced the Walk of Shame? , was viewed between 6 and 12 December 2011. The ad showed several women in evening wear making their way home in the
early morning, apparently after a night out. The women all looked dishevelled and uncomfortable, and some were given second looks from passers-by. On-screen text then appeared, which stated Avoid the Walk of Shame this Season , followed by
footage of a smartly-dressed woman approaching the entrance of a flat and confidently acknowledging a postman.
The ASA received several complaints:
One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it reinforced negative stereotypes of women, and in particular those women who chose to have casual sex.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and sexist, because it was demeaning to women.
One complainant challenged whether the ad, and in particular a scene of a woman wearing ripped tights, was offensive, because it implied sexual violence.
Three complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it suggested that lower class women who had one-night stands should feel shame, whilst more wealthy women who behaved in the same way should feel proud.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it mocked less wealthy women and those who did not have model figures.
Harvey Nichols & Company (HNC) said they were sorry to hear that the ad had offended or caused concern. They said their intention had been to raise a smile by reminding people of a familiar hazard of the Christmas party season -- of waking up
somewhere unfamiliar the day after a night out and having to embark on the journey home in attire that was less than suitable for the morning rush hour. HNC said that, in the past few years, that phenomenon had been popularly referred to as the
Walk of Shame , but the ad was intended to convey the idea that women did not have any reason to be ashamed. Rather, it was intended to highlight the fact that society tended to be judgemental, and to suggest, playfully, that a woman's choice
of outfit could go some way to offsetting that tendency. They said their intention was to show that women could also do the Stride of Pride , which was how men were popularly referred to in the same situation.
HNC said the response to the ad suggested that the vast majority of people who saw it had enjoyed it and taken it in the spirit with which it was intended. They said it had been enjoyed and celebrated by women's magazines and, after 725,000 views
on YouTube, the ad had received 1223 likes and only 221 dislikes.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Not upheld
The ASA noted HNC's view that the women had not necessarily had one-night stands. However, like the complainants, we understood the term Walk of Shame to be popularly understood to refer to an early morning journey home specifically after
a one-night stand. We therefore considered that, by referencing the Walk of Shame , the implication of the ad was that the women had had casual sex the previous night. Nonetheless, we noted that whilst the ad mainly depicted women on the
Walk of Shame who looked dishevelled and uncomfortable, the final scene showed a woman who appeared neat and confident. We considered the ad did not, therefore, reinforce negative stereotypes of women generally, or women who chose to have
casual sex in particular, nor that it was sexist or demeaning to women.
We understood one complainant believed the ad was offensive because the scene of a woman wearing ripped tights implied sexual violence. However, we considered the majority of viewers would not interpret the scene in that way, because ripped or
laddered tights were common in everyday situations.
We noted the ad depicted women of a range of sizes and in a variety of dress styles. We also noted they were shown in a range of locations and situations which did not necessarily suggest they belonged to a specific social class or had a certain
level of wealth. We therefore considered the ad did not imply that lower class women who had one-night stands should feel shame whilst more wealthy women should feel proud, or that it mocked less wealthy women who did not have model figures.
We acknowledged that some people might find the theme of the ad distasteful, but we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On all points, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
A poster ad for the Figleaves.com lingerie company seen on 25 November 2011 showed a woman standing by a mantelpiece wearing a bra, knickers, stockings and stiletto shoes. Text stated Figleaves.com everyday luxury for everybody . Issue
The ASA received four complaints.
Three complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive.
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for display where it might be seen by children.
Figleaves said it was a major retailer of high-class lingerie and believed its presentation and promotion of its products was in the utmost of good taste. They said they tried to present their brand in an aspirational and stylish manner; they did
not believe it was offensive or salacious in any way. They considered the photography in the ad was more tasteful and less provocative than other current outdoor campaigns and was done in the best possible manner relevant to the product being
featured. They did not believe the ad had caused widespread or serious offence because of the low number of complaints the ASA had received.
Figleaves did not accept the ad was inappropriate for children to see. They said they had used a model who was of a suitable age so as not to cause question of age appropriateness. They believed there was no question as to at whom the ad was
targeted. They said that very similar imagery was common place for underwear brands, perfume and fashion ads.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the ad was for a lingerie company and we recognised that their advertising would understandably feature a model wearing lingerie. In this instance, we noted that the model was wearing a matching bra and knickers set, as well as
black stockings and stiletto shoes. We noted the complainants' concerns that the ad was overtly sexual but we noted also that the ad did not show any nudity and that the image used was relevant to Figleaves. We understood that the ad may not
appeal to everyone. However, we considered that, given the context, which was for underwear, the ad was not overtly sexual and therefore, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to those who saw it.
However, we considered that the stiletto shoes worn with the stockings, her facial expression and body language were sexually suggestive. Because of that, we considered the ad was inappropriate for children to see and therefore, the ad warranted
a placement restriction to prevent it from being displayed within 100 m of schools. We understood that such a restriction had already been applied to the ad and we therefore concluded that in this instance, the ad was not socially irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
Three TV ads for the film Paranormal Activity 3 broadcast in October 2011. The ads, each ten seconds in length, featured quickly changing scenes shot in the style of video-camera footage.
a. The first ad featured a young girl sitting in a garden, while a man said Kirsty has been talking to this imaginary friend . This was followed by a young girl whispering in the corner of a darkened room, then
standing in a darkened doorway watching a woman sleeping. A woman said Oh My God! and a girl asked Did you hear that? ; furniture was shown moving around violently, before a girl was seen screaming. On-screen text that stated DISCOVER HOW THE ACTIVITY BEGAN
was interspersed throughout the brief scenes.
b. The second ad featured a man who said There was something in the house , which was followed by shots of darkened interiors of a home. A woman said We're getting out of here before she was invisibly pulled
backwards and, screaming, violently thrown onto a bed. On-screen text that stated DISCOVER HOW THE ACTIVITY BEGAN was interspersed throughout the brief scenes.
c. The third ad showed two young girls standing in front of a mirror with a video camera set up behind them. One of the girls said Remember the rules? and turned off the light. The red recording light of the
video-camera was shown on screen, while the girls chanted Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary . One of the girls shone a torch under her chin and screamed. The other girl screamed as well and said Katie, it's not funny! before
they left the room. The light from the hall revealed a silhouette of a figure standing in the room.
All three ads were cleared by Clearcast with a post 7.30 pm restriction.
1. Twenty nine viewers challenged whether the ads were likely to cause distress to children and adults. 9 reported that their children, aged between 10 and 16 years, had been upset by the ads, and 11 reported personal
2. Fifteen of the complainants challenged whether the ads were suitable for broadcast before 9 pm.
Clearcast said all three ads were approved with a post 7.30 pm timing restriction, which prevented the ad from being shown in and around children's programmes. They said, when they viewed the ads, they recognised the
potential to cause distress to some viewers and in particular children, but nonetheless believed the short duration of the ads alleviated the potential for harm or offence, because they did not maintain a level of sustained threat and tension for
a period long enough to leave a lasting impression on the average consumer.
ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld
The ASA considered that, although the ads were brief, the general tone was one of fear and threat, with young children screaming in both ads (a) and (c) and a screaming woman being thrown violently backwards in ad (b). We noted the ads appeared
to have been shot on a home video camera and took place in a recognisable domestic setting, with ordinary people, which added to the sense of threat.
We noted the ages of those children reportedly upset by the ads ranged from 10 to 16 years. Although we acknowledged that the restriction preventing the ads from being shown before 7.30 pm had kept the material away from younger children, we
considered that the overall atmosphere of fear and menace portrayed was nonetheless likely to be upsetting to some older children watching television after that time. We considered that a post 7.30 pm restriction was not sufficient and a post 9pm
restriction ought to have been applied in order to minimise the possibility of children seeing the ads.
We also noted some adult viewers were unsettled or disturbed by the ads. However, although we sympathised with their reaction, we nonetheless considered that the ads did not go beyond what viewers would normally expect from ads promoting a
15-certificate horror film.
We considered that a post- 9 pm restriction should have been applied in order to reduce the likelihood of children seeing the ads and concluded that they were unsuitable for broadcast before that time.
The ads breached BCAP Code rules 4.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not breach rule 4.10 (Harm and offence).
A TV ad for VIP 212 fragrances featured a line of people waiting outside a nightclub and a doorman pointing towards a sign which stated THIS IS A PRIVATE PARTY . A woman was seen surreptitiously crawling through the crowd and a man was
prevented from trying to enter via a back door. Various people were seen socialising inside the party. A woman was shown from behind, apparently topless, facing a large stuffed polar bear. Another woman was shown, again from behind, throwing open
her coat causing a shocked reaction from another woman standing in front of her.
Four complainants objected that the ad was offensive and inappropriate for broadcast at a time when children might be watching.
Puig said that the ad for the VIP 212 perfume was created in line with the overall brand concept of Are you on the list? . They believed the ad would not in any way cause serious or widespread offence and that the levels of nudity
were of the kind expected in other ads for fragrance or shower products and were not inappropriate for broadcast around programmes which children would be likely to be watching.
Clearcast believed the ad was not offensive or inappropriate for broadcast at a time when children would be watching and stated that the content was typical of its genre and featured beautiful people in a stylised backdrop. They stated that the
ad had been shot in black and white and illustrated the avant garde nature of the party through the fancy dress costumes and the stuffed polar bear. They stated that within this surreal party there were some slightly risque' elements but believed
it was commonplace in perfume ads to include artistic shots of provocatively dressed women. They agreed with Puig that ads for shower products often included more flesh and believed the woman seen with the polar bear was sensual, but not overtly
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the ad featured young, attractive and glamorous characters at an exclusive party. We also noted the ad featured a brief image of a naked woman with her back to the camera, facing a stuffed polar bear and an image of another woman,
also with her back to the camera, opening her coat causing a shocked reaction from the person standing in front of her. Although we understood that some viewers may have been uncomfortable with the innuendo presented in the ad, we considered that
the black and white images provided a stylised image of a modern, slightly fantastical, party scene and that any partial nudity was fleeting. We considered that the brief images of the women were not presented in an excessively sexual or
provocative way and that the content was likely to be in line with most viewers' expectations of a perfume ad. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and that a timing restriction to prevent the ad
from being broadcast at a time when children were likely to be watching was unnecessary.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
A video on the Agent Provocateur website, viewed on 4 November 2011, showed a woman in a nightgown in her home. She was shown answering the telephone before several women, who were wearing revealing lingerie with stockings and long boots,
appeared at the window. The women were shown dragging the other woman through the house and adopted a series of poses, some sexual, alone and with the other women. The group of women appeared to attack the woman's body; she then she re-appeared
wearing similar revealing lingerie to the group. Issue
The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because she believed it was disturbing and misogynistic.
Agent Provocateur said the video was produced in support of the online launch of their new Soiree 2011-2012 collection, because the limited edition range had previously been available only in global destination boutiques. The film was a unique
take on the horror genre with a signature Agent Provocateur sensibility and eroticism. They said one of the gowns in the collection reminded the film's director of the type of gown that was worn by victims in classic 1950s Hammer horror
films. The style suited Agent Provocateur perfectly, because in the past horror was the only way of showing sex in a film. Sex and horror had always been woven together but, they understood, had never been parodied in a film for a fashion label.
They said the online video had been viewed over 450,000 times since its launch and there had not been any other complaints. They said they always tried to communicate with a sense of humour and did not condone violence in any form.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
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.
A magazine ad for ice cream was headed, THE THREE VERY WISE ICE CREAM MEN . The ad featured a traditional Christmas nativity scene but it had Mary holding a spoon and the three wise men bearing gifts of ice cream. Issue
13 complainants objected that the ad was offensive on religious grounds, particularly at Christmas time.
Antonio Federici said they did not believe that the ad would cause offence to the majority of people of saw it. Assessment
ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad was based on the biblical story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus, but featured the wise men bearing gifts of ice cream rather than gold, frankincense and myrrh. We also noted that Mary was holding a spoon. We
noted that the ad appeared at Christmas time, which the complainants found offensive on religious grounds. We acknowledged that the ad might not be to everyone's taste; however, we considered that most consumers would understand that it was
light-hearted take on the biblical story rather than a mockery of Christian belief. Because we did not consider that the ad would cause widespread or serious offence, we concluded that it had not breached the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
A regional press ad for The Sofa King, published on 4 August 2011, stated The Sofa King - Where the Prices are Sofa King Low! .
Three readers challenged whether the phrase Where the Prices are Sofa King Low! was offensive and unsuitable for general display.
The Sofa King said they had used the slogan Where the Prices are Sofa King Low! as their company strap line since they began trading nine years previously and that it was used on their premises and on their vehicles as well as in their
advertising. They said complaints made to Northamptonshire Police in 2004 were not taken further by the Crown Prosecution Service and that no complaints had been made direct to them. They said the slogan simply used their company name to refer to
pricing and that the words had not been changed or run together or punctuation used in a way that was intended to cause offence. They did not believe the slogan caused serious or widespread offence.
The Northampton Herald & Post said they had received two complaints about the slogan. They noted that the slogan also appeared on the advertiser's shop front and on their vehicles, and so could be seen by the public at any time. They said
they had run the ad for some time with no complaints until now.
ASA Pronouncement: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted that the phrase ... Sofa King Low! used the advertiser's company name but considered that it could be interpreted as a derivative of the swear word fuck , which consumer research had found to be a word so likely to
offend that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product. Because of that, we concluded that the slogan was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that the ad breached the CAP Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
ASA: likely to cause serious or widespread offence The people:. Eye-catching, harmless, light-hearted,
funny and suitable for the product
Credos which styles itself as an advertising think tank has published a report for the trade group, the Outdoor Media Centre examining the public offensiveness of some of the more controversial outdoor advertising campaigns.
The report, Public Attitudes Towards Outdoor Advertising , found that outdoor advertising is bottom on the list of offensive advert formats that the public are exposed to, with the internet; rap music; music videos; computer games and TV
all being rated higher.
Credos asked 1051 GB adults aged 16-64 what they thought of twelve outdoor ads, four of which were banned by the ASA, with the other eight having received complaints.
It was found that while some ads provoked a strong emotional reaction, the public are generally unlikely to consider an advert so offensive that they would complain about it.
Respondents were asked to choose key words to describe each ad, out of the following list: funny, light-hearted, suitable for the product, harmless, depends on location and eye-catching. Harmless was the word used most often.
The perfect 10 ad for a gentlemen's club was found to be the ad which offended the most people, (31% of all adults) with inappropriate, vulgar, rude, eye-catching and sexist the top five words used to describe it.
A TV ad for Wonderful pistachio nuts, seen in November 2011, featured a woman dressed in a black PVC corset and underwear and black PVC thigh high boots. She placed a pistachio on a chair and cracked the nut with a whip. The voiceover said
Dominatrix do it ... on command. Wonderful Pistachios ... get crackin' . Large on-screen text then stated Big Nut and Get Crackin' , above a picture of a large pistachio nut which opened to reveal a bag of pistachios. The
voice-over then said And for extra spice ... , and the sound of a whip cracking was heard, Try new sweet chilli flavour. Wonderful , as large on-screen text stated Sweet Chilli above a picture of a large pistachio nut which
again opened to reveal a bag of pistachios. Issue
Ten complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children because of the dominatrix theme and whether the ad was inappropriately scheduled.
ASA Decision: Not upheld
The ASA noted that Clearcast had applied a restriction which prevented the ads from being broadcast in or around programmes directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We understood that almost all of the ads, although not all, had
also been scheduled for broadcast after 9 pm, which reduced further the likelihood of them being seen by children.
We noted that the ad featured a woman dressed in a black PVC corset, underwear and thigh high boots, using a whip, and who was referred to as a dominatrix. We considered that the woman's outfit and the use of the term dominatrix did make
reference to a sexual practice, but also noted that the woman then used her whip to crack a pistachio nut, and the ad did not include any explicit or sexualised behaviour. We therefore considered that most viewers would understand that the action
was intended to be humorous and surreal, and would not find it overtly sexual. Whilst we also considered that the lines Dominatrix do it ... on command and the on-screen text Big Nut and Get Crackin' would be understood by
adult viewers to be suggestive and recognised that that approach would not be to everyone's taste, we considered that most viewers would nonetheless understand that those lines were intended to be playful and humorous and considered that they
were therefore unlikely to provoke serious or widespread offence.
We considered therefore that the scheduling restriction applied by Clearcast was sufficient and that the ad had been appropriately scheduled to minimize the risk of children seeing it. We concluded that, in light of that, the ad was unlikely to
cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.1, 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
A poster, for a stage production of Calendar Girls, stated JENNIFER ELLISON is Miss July and featured a photograph of the actress who was shown naked and seated at a piano. She had her back to the reader and was looking over her right
shoulder. Further text stated Calendar Girls by Tim Firth 29 November - 3 December... . Issue
The complainant, who did not believe the photograph was appropriate for general display, where it could be seen by children, challenged whether it was socially irresponsible.
Leep marketing+pr said although some of the images used to promote Calendar Girls implied nudity, they were careful not to use images that were suggestive, provocative or sexual.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the ad featured a photograph of an actress shown naked, with her back to the camera, as she was seated at a piano. We also noted text stated JENNIFER ELLISON is Miss July... Calendar Girls by Tim Firth 29 November - 3 December
and considered that the context of a theatrical performance was clear. We noted the actress was naked and that the ad was on displayed in public. However we also noted her nudity was purposefully obscured by the piano. We considered that the
image was not overtly sexual, nor was it overly graphic and, while we acknowledged that some might find it distasteful, concluded that it was unlikely to be seen as socially irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) but did not find it in breach.
A TV ad for the film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Cert 18), seen December 2011, showed fast edited scenes which included a fight between two people on an escalator, a man being shot at in the woods, a woman with a large tattoo on her
back standing in a shower as if in pain, a knife being drawn from a kitchen knife block, a man lying face down on the floor as if he was dead, two people kissing passionately and a large explosion. For the first six seconds of the ad, on-screen
text stated: Contains strong sex and sexual violence .
Five viewers challenged whether the ad was overly violent, distressing and unsuitable for children and was inappropriately scheduled.
Clearcast said the ad was given a post-7.30 pm timing restriction. They felt that, as with all film trailers of that nature, it was a matter of judgment and they had come to the conclusion that the action scenes were very brief, did not linger on
any particular shot, and were comparatively restrained in tone, given the nature of the film.
ASA Assessment Complaints Not upheld
The ASA noted that Clearcast had applied a post-7.30 pm timing restriction and that the ad was therefore not shown around programmes commissioned for, or likely to have particular appeal to, under 16-years-of-age.
We noted that the trailer was promoting a film about a murder investigation, based on a best-selling book, and considered that, while there was some tension and suspense in the ad, the scenes which depicted action such as an explosion, a fight, a
shooting, a shower scene, a knife, a man lying face down on the floor as if he was dead and two people kissing passionately, were all very fast-cut and brief scenes, and were not strongly violent, visually clear or sexually explicit. We
considered that the overall effect of those action scenes was mild and did not consider that the cumulative effect was inappropriate or distressing, when broadcast after 7.30 pm.
We noted that the ad included on-screen text which stated Contains strong sex and sexual violence , and considered that that explained what viewers might expect from the film, but did not consider that that on-screen text was inappropriate
or offensive, in and of itself.
Although the ad featured some images which might be inappropriate for a very young audience, we concluded that the ad was not overly violent and distressing and that the scheduling restriction that had been applied was sufficient.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1, 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.5.3 (Television Scheduling: Children), but did not find it in breach.
A poster for Scruffs Hardwear promoting a competition to win the ultimate lads' bash for you and 3 mates , seen in November 2011, featured an image of the inside of a workman's van, as if seen from the rear. The image included a man
reclining at the front of the van with two women at the back. One of the women was shown in her underwear and high heels and was holding on to a vertical pole that was fixed to the van and the other was shown in a short white dress, sitting on a
spare tyre covered in material. The image also included bottles of champagne and a bra hanging from a ladder. Further text included scruffs HARDWEAR IT'S GONNA GET DIRTY . Issue
Eight complainants challenged whether the ad was:
offensive and demeaning to women; and
unsuitable to be seen by children.
BSS Group stated that the WIN THE NIGHT BEFORE ad campaign was used to target tradesmen with a competition to promote their Scruffs safety footwear and work wear brand. They stated that the objective of the ad was to promote the competition in
good humour and that many of their ads used double entendres and innuendo to create a Carry-On style humour. They stated that this was illustrated through the strap line It's Gonna Get Dirty , which alluded to the tradesmen getting
soiled on site during the course of their working day. They said that on the flipside, it also related to the good humoured use of insinuation to appeal to their customers. They added that whilst they strove to be different, they worked hard not
to be overtly sexual or sexist.
ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the ad was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek representation of the morning after an ultimate lads' bash , which was the prize that was the subject of the ad. However, whilst the concept of the lads' night was linked to the
competition prize being advertised, we considered that consumers would interpret the portrayal of the woman in back of the van, particularly the woman in her underwear, as a suggestion that they had played a sexual role in the lads' night out and
morning after story that was being portrayed. We considered that this was further implied by the text IT'S GONNA GET DIRTY , which we considered would be understood by consumers to be a reference to sexual activity that was likely to take
place. We concluded that, in the context of a promotion for work-related clothing, the portrayal of the women within such a strong sexual context was demeaning and offensive and that the ad was therefore unsuitable for public display.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
We understood from the complainant that the poster ad had appeared near to a nursery school in one location and a primary school in another. We noted BSS Group stated that one of the outdoor media contractors had failed to follow their
instructions that the poster ads should not have been placed near schools or near sensitive community sites. We considered that the images, alongside the text IT'S GONNA GET DIRTY, presented the women in a sexually provocative way and that
as such, the poster ad was not suitable to be placed in areas where it was more likely to be seen by children. We considered that whilst a placement restriction had been put in place, the ad had appeared in areas where it was more likely to be
seen by children. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
A poster for a TV programme, Tamara Ecclestone: Billion $$ Girl , on a roadside billboard, viewed in November 2011, featured a picture of a naked woman covered by two magazines. Text next to the picture stated THE COVER GIRL. UNCOVERED
... STARTS NOVEMBER ... TAMARA ECCLESTONE: BILLION $$ GIRL ... NEW SERIES ... CHANNEL 5 . Issue
Three complainants challenged whether the depiction of nudity was:
inappropriate for public display, where it could be seen by children.
On 7 October 2011, the ASA issued new guidance on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising. That followed the publication of the independent report Letting Children be Children by the Department for Education after a review by Reg Bailey,
Chief Executive of the Mother's Union, into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and our own research into the views of parents and children about irresponsible advertising. The ASA's guidance informed the advertising industry
that we would consider complaints about sexual imagery in outdoor advertising in light of the new evidence we had received about the public's views. In accordance with that guidance, we are considering Channel 5's ad in light of the complaints we
Channel 5 Broadcasting (Channel 5) said the ad was part of a campaign to promote a new documentary series. The aim of the series was to show the naked truth behind all the media coverage that Ms Ecclestone attracted and that was the
conceptual basis for the ads. They said the strapline the Cover Girl - Uncovered was clearly a journalistic metaphor and not a literal ambition because Channel 5 was going to uncover her true story behind the glamorous image.
Channel 5 considered the ad to be within the boundaries of the CAP Code and did not accept that nudity was depicted on the posters. They acknowledged that Tamara Ecclestone appeared not to be wearing clothes However, her torso and thighs were
almost completely covered by open magazines. They did not believe she was presented in a sexualised manner because she was photographed looking straight to the camera and neither her pose nor her expression was sexual in nature. They did not
consider her to be presented in a sexually suggestive, seductive or sensual manner and the ad contained neither nudity nor sexual content or context.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted there was no explicit nudity in the image and that it did not draw undue attention to body parts in a sexual way. We considered that the nature of the TV programme being advertised meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to
regard the ad as gratuitous and objectifying women. We considered that the woman was shown in a naturalistic pose and there was nothing in her body language or facial expression which was likely to be considered sexually suggestive. We also
considered that, although the woman appeared to not be wearing any clothes, the ad contained no nudity or indecent exposure because she was covered by magazines. We acknowledged that some might find the content of the ad distasteful, but
concluded that the ad was not irresponsibly placed and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to the public in general or to cause harm to children.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
A moving digital poster ad, seen in London underground stations in October 2011, featured black and white images of two women looking out directly at the viewer and who were posing and smiling as if in front of a mirror. The ad contained an image
of the women in their underwear in a bedroom, as if getting ready for a night out and where one of the women was also wearing an open shirt. This image alternated with another image of the same women fully dressed, as if on a night out.
Three complainants objected that the ad was offensive and inappropriate for display in a public locations; and
one of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was unsuitable to be seen by children.
Marks and Spencer (M&S) stated that the ad was part of a series that was intended to showcase their Limited Collection of lingerie and clothing in a brand-identifiable way. They said careful consideration went into the concept of the two
girls getting ready for a girls night out , and then clothed, showcasing their outfits once they were out. They believed that the ad was not offensive or unsuitable for public display where it could be seen by children.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Not Upheld
The ASA noted the ad appeared in London Underground stations, and alternated between two moving images in which the women were posing, as if in front of a mirror. We noted the first image featured the women posing, whilst getting ready for a
night out and that the second image featured the same women posing again, when dressed up in glamorous clothing. We considered that, whilst the ad showed the women posing in a flirtatious way and could therefore be seen as mildly sexual, the
images were not sexually suggestive or explicit. We acknowledged that some people might have found the public display of the images of the women in their underwear to be distasteful, but noted the content of the ad reflected the clothing products
being sold and considered that the alternating images clearly told a story about the women getting ready for a night out.
We considered that, because the ad promoted lingerie and the images of the women posing in their underwear were juxtaposed with further images in which they were fully clothed, the ads were not unduly sexual in nature. We therefore concluded that
the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence or be considered unsuitable for public display in locations where it could be seen by children.
On these points we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
A regional press ad and a mobile poster ad for a glazing company:
a. The regional press ad was headlined Others Measure - We Fit and featured a photograph of a naked woman seen behind a window, shown from the neck to the waist. The woman's breasts were mostly covered by two large flowers.
b. A poster ad, seen on a mobile poster site situated in various locations including a field next to a main road was headlined Other Measure - We Fit . The ad featured a photograph of a naked woman seen behind a window, shown from the neck
to the waist. The woman's breasts were mostly covered by two large flowers. Text underneath the image stated Massive deals! .
A complainant challenged whether:
1. press ad (a) was offensive because they believed the image objectified woman; and
2. poster ad (b) was offensive for the same reason.
The ASA challenged whether:
3. poster ad (b) was irresponsible because it could be seen by children.
1st Choice Glazing believed that the press and poster image did not objectify women and stated that they had been tastefully shot in order to ensure decency. They stated that the image was no more revealing than others that appeared in some ads
for cars or drinks and believed that the tongue-in-cheek image was unlikely to cause offence. They agreed that children might have seen the poster but stated that they were exposed to far more explicit images whilst watching popular programmes
set on beaches, or during pop star videos and TV shows.
Smartlocal stated that the image had been widely used in the advertising campaigns for a number of years and that to date they had not received any complaints from their 120,000 readers.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the woman's breasts were partly covered by the flowers and that the image was not presented in an overtly sexual way. However, we also noted the woman's head was not included in the image and considered that consumers would
understand from the ad that they were being invited to view her naked torso and, in particular, her breasts. We considered that, because the product being advertised was unrelated to the image, the nakedness was incongruous and the image was
likely to be seen to be an objectification of the woman in the ads and therefore of women in general.
We further considered that the text Others Measure - We Fit and Massive deals! in conjunction with the images were likely to be seen as innuendo and contribute to that impression. We therefore concluded that ads (a) and (b) were
likely to cause serious offence. We also concluded that ad (b) was irresponsible because it could be seen by children.
On these points ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code 4.1 (Harm and offence). Ad (b) also breached CAP Code rule 3.1 (Social responsibility).
A double glazing boss, whose advertising campaign was banned after it was deemed supposedly offensive to women, has launched a new billboard featuring a picture of a half-naked man.
Owner of 1st Choice Glazing in West Lothian, Derrick Findlay, was recently ordered by the easily offended advert censors of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to remove adverts from Boghall Roundabout and the M8 motorway. These featured an
image of a naked woman behind a window with flowers covering her breasts.
Derrick was left deeply disappointed with the ruling, which followed just one complaint in nearly two years. [A frequency of complaints the ASA define as 'serious offence'. If the advert had received one
more complaint it would have surely moved up into the 'widespread offence' category].
Now he and his team have come up with a new design which uses an image of a half-naked male model behind the glass -- accompanied by the slogan fantastic packages available!
We have had some fantastic responses already. People can't believe that one complaint brought the original adverts down. We just thought we should do the same thing again but with a man. Everyone walking into the shop has been talking about it
and has said it's great.
A TV ad in Urdu, for Islamic Taweez lockets, stated DM Digital Global Network is presenting an Islamic locket, which consists of ninety nine sacred names of Allah Almighty and these sacred names has [sic] been recited with specific
numbers. Wearing this locket, you can constantly increase blessings, call right now and book your locket today .
The ad also stated ... Any incurable patient who recites the name of Allah excessively and prays for recovery will be restored completely ... ; ... childless women use this sacred name ... will be awarded with a baby ... ; ... a
person who eat four bites of bread for forty days after reciting this name ... will be save of problems of appetite, thirst, wounds and pain ... ; ... recite this name excessively over the water at the time of break and drink it, Inshaa
Allah (Allah willing), syndrome will cured ... ; ... a woman unable to feed his [sic] baby, recite Ya-Matin over water and give her, Inshaa Allah... will have plenty of milk ... ; ... an ill person who recite Ya-Muhyiy excessively
or recite it on other sick person will Inshaa Allah ... be better ... ; ... a person who recite Ya-Hayy three thousand times daily will Inshaa Allah ... never get ill ... A person who will write this name with camphor and rose ... will be
restored completely ... ; ... a person who daily recite Ya-Ghaniy seventy times, Allah will increase his wealth, and he will not be dependent of [sic] anyone ... ; ...A person having any internal or external infection or disease,
recite Ya-Ghaniy all over his organs and body, s/he will Inshaa Allah be restored to health ... ; ... A person who recite [sic] this name excessively, all of his problems and troubles will Inshaa Allah ... be solved and money and children
will be good ... ; ... A person who have any income problems, or any other distress, grief, or sorrow, recite this name forty one times daily, will Inshaa Allah ... be free from all these problems ... ; ... A person having
disobedient wife or children held his/her forehead and recite Ya-Shahid twenty one times, Inshaa Allah ... s/he will become obedient ... ; ... The person who recite Ya-haqq on all four corners of a square paper, raise upwards placing it on
the palm, and pray, Inshaa Allah ... misplaced person or article will be found and will stay save from loss ... Call now and buy your locket ... ; ... If anyone place a hand over the belly of pregnant woman and recite Ya-Mubdi ninety-nine
times, Inshaa Allah ... her pregnancy will neither waste ... nor a premature birth ... ; ... A person who recite Ya-Ar-Ra'uf excessively will Inshaa Allah ... be kind to and have kindness of people... .
Throughout the ad, text stating This locket is not for medical purposes scrolled along the bottom of the screen.
A viewer challenged whether the claims that wearing the locket would positively affect the wearer in multiple ways were misleading.
The ASA challenged whether the claims that wearing the locket provided health benefits for wearers and those they knew, particularly sick or incurable patients, were irresponsible, because they could discourage consumers from taking
appropriate medical advice.
1. & 2. DM Digital TV Ltd (DM Digital) said the ad was a teleshopping feature shown during the month of Ramadan to promote religious faith, via the recital of 99 names of Allah. They said the various lockets with the difference names of Allah
were worn by those who believed in the Islamic faith, in order to receive blessings as described in the Holy Quran and that those who regularly prayed and recited the specific 99 different names of Allah, during Ramadan, could expect to receive
rewards. They also said the ad was not intended to be educational or to be construed as medical advice, and that it was for entertainment purposes only. They said this was made clear by the on-screen text throughout the feature which stated this programme does not give any medical advice. Please seek your GPs advice before any treatment. This is a teleshopping presentation and entertainment feature brought to you by DM Digital Television
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the ad was shown during the month of Ramadan in 2011 and had not been shown since. We noted DM Digital said the feature was not intend to be construed literally by viewers. However, we were concerned that, while the ad made claims
that the locket and act of reciting would provide many benefits, we had not seen evidence relating to those claims. We considered that the ad was therefore likely to mislead viewers into believing that wearing the locket would positively affect
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.12 (Exaggeration).
We acknowledged the ad contained on-screen text which indicated that the programme did not give medical advice. However, we were concerned that the main text of the ad stated that people with infections or diseases would be restored to health.
Because of the nature of the claims made, we considered that the ad was socially irresponsible and, furthermore, could discourage people, particularly those who were vulnerable, from seeking essential medical treatment.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.12 (Exaggeration) and 11.3 (Medicines, Medical Devices, Treatments and Health).
A poster ad, for a Mems DIY store in Tottenham, was viewed on 7 November 2011. It included the text Mems, Always HAMMERING Down Prices along with an image of a woman wearing a bra, denim hot pants, a tool belt and a
hard hat. She was holding a hammer and pulled at the front of her shorts with her other hand.
A [single widely spread and offended] complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, because she believed it was:
overtly sexual; and
sexist and objectified women.
1. & 2. Mems DIY said ... HAMMERING Down Prices was an obvious play on the word hammer and was intended to emphasise the fact that low prices were being offered by referring to a product sold by them and
used by their customers. They said that in order to reinforce that point, a person in the ad, coincidentally a woman, was holding a hammer. They said the woman was wearing a hard hat and a tool belt, as well as standing next to a ladder, to
further illustrate the nature of the business. She was at the far left-hand side of the ad, most of which was made up text and contact details; none of the wording was linked, overtly or otherwise, to the woman's body. They said there was no
explicit nudity and the woman's pose was not overtly sexual; her hand was resting in, or on, the tool belt not her shorts. They said products and services were supplied by them to everyone, regardless of gender and while they could have
considered depicting both a man and a woman in the ad that would have resulted in a greater emphasis on human figures than was considered necessary or appropriate. They said they did not intend to cause offence but did not believe the ad was
overtly sexual or sexist.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the ad appeared in an untargeted medium. We noted the woman in the image was wearing a lacy bra and very short denim shorts, which she appeared to be pulling down at the front; she was also pouting. We disagreed that her hand was
clearly resting on the tool belt. We considered the woman's pose and dress was sexually provocative and had the effect of making her appear sexually available. We also considered the text ... Always HAMMERING Down Prices in conjunction
with the image could be interpreted as innuendo. Although she was holding a hammer and wearing items related to DIY, we considered a sexually provocative image of a woman bore no relation to the product being advertised and that the ad therefore
objectified the woman by portraying her as a sexual object. We considered the ad was overtly sexual and, because it objectified women, was also sexist. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that
it was irresponsible for such an image to appear in an untargeted medium.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
We told Mems DIY to ensure future marketing communications were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and that, particularly in an untargeted medium, they did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or
a. The first ad, published in The Guardian, showed a woman in a bra and pants. She had one hand on her hip and pulled her pants slightly down with the thumb of the other. The headline stated RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM
£ 9.99 . Further text stated BUY THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM! , and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, ORNELLA FEBRUARY .
b. The second ad, published in The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, showed a woman in a bra and pants. The headline stated RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM £ 9.99 . Further text stated BUY
THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM! , and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, GILLIAN MARCH .
Thirteen complainants, who believed ad (a) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
Four complainants, who believed ad (b) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
Ryanair said the ads promoted their 2012 cabin crew charity calendar and used images taken directly from it. They said, because members of their cabin crew volunteered their time to produce and promote the calendar, it was not sexist and could
not be seen to objectify the women who appeared in it. They said, because similar images of women and men often featured in the same media, the ads could not be deemed offensive or unsuitable for public display.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted both ads promoted one way fares from £ 9.99 and a cabin crew charity calendar. We also noted the women, featured in ads (a) and (b), were wearing underwear and looking directly at the reader and
considered that, although the images were not overtly sexual in content, the appearance, stance and gaze of the women, particular the one in ad (a), who was shown pulling her pants slightly down, were likely to be seen as sexually suggestive. We
also considered that most readers would interpret these images, in conjunction with the text RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! and the names of the women, as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour. Although we acknowledged
that the women in the ads had consented to appear in the calendar, we considered that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, when displayed in a national newspaper, and therefore concluded that they breached the Code.
Ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
A TV ad, for the console game SIMS 3 Pets , included an animated character that had a human body and a dog's head. It stated Are you an animal person? Well, not like me cos most people are made up entirely of person. And if you're a
person person, then you'd be missing out on the duality of life. With the Sims 3 Pets you can have a pet or be a pet. You can play both ways. So, go on, experiment. Chase some tail. Play with life . The ad also included animated scenes of a
man playing a guitar surrounded by animals and other people. He was also shown in a bath and then appeared about to kiss a woman on a bed.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with no timing restriction.
Some of the complainants challenged whether the ad, in particular the scene with the couple on a bed, was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Most of the complainants challenged whether the ad, in particular the scene with the couple on a bed, was suitable to be broadcast when children might be watching.
1. Electronic Arts (EA) said the scene of the couple on the bed was from gameplay. They believed the graphics made clear the characters were fictitious and that the product was a videogame; the PEGI 12 logo was also clearly displayed. EA said
both characters were clothed and did not actually kiss; the footage of a dog lifting its leg onto the corner of the bed also added to the silliness and comedy of the ad.
Clearcast said they had noted the couple on the bed but they were not kissing and therefore they considered a timing restriction was not necessary, because they did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Not Upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered the presentation of the ad was such that it was clear that it was for a videogame and that the scenarios shown were not a reflection of real life. We acknowledged some viewers might find the content of the ad, in particular the
scene of the couple on the bed, distasteful but considered most viewers were likely to interpret it as being light hearted and mildly suggestive, rather than as being overtly sexual. We therefore concluded that it was not likely to cause serious
or widespread offence.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We considered the scene of the couple on the bed was mildly suggestive but noted it was brief and that although they appeared about to kiss, kissing did not take place. We considered the ad did not include anything that was likely to cause harm
or distress to children or was otherwise unsuitable for them. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) but did not find it in breach.
Guy Parker, the chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has highlighted a 40%rise in complaints to the advert censor. He said in excess of 20,000 campaigns provoked complaints to the ASA in 2011.
Parker said the UK was now responsible for more complaints over advertising than the rest of Europe put together:
They say that British people don't complain. They don't complain face-to-face... but they don't mind complaining remotely. Now far more than half of all the complaints made to advertising regulatory bodies in all 27 EU member states are made by
the UK public to us, it's 60-65 per cent.
Parker, giving evidence to Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media standards, said that it was not in the interest of British business for there to be mistrust in advertising:
Trust in advertising has been declining for a number of years and this is not good news. [If] people trust individual ads less...then companies' advertising spend is going to be less effective.
The surge in the ASA's workload in the past year has been due partly to an extension of the censor's remit on 1 March to include claims made on company websites. The ASA workload rose by 44%in the following seven months, and 36% of the cases
related to websites. The ASA has taken on a dozen extra frontline staff to cope with the added complaints.
A website and a leaflet, for Healing on the Streets - Bath, viewed on 10 May 2011:
a. The website home page stated Our vision is to :- Promote Christian Healing as a daily life style for every believer, through demonstration, training and equipping. We are working in unity, from numerous churches outside the four walls of
the building, In order to :- - Heal the sick ... .
A page headed What people have told us afterwards ... included five testimonials in which people stated that after receiving prayer their conditions had been improved.
b. The leaflet was available for download on the website under the heading Download a healing flyer by clicking below . The leaflet stated NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ...
Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness? We'd love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of
Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness . Issue
A complainant challenged whether:
the claim in ad (b) that the advertiser could heal the named conditions was misleading and could be substantiated;
the testimonials in ad (a) misleadingly implied that the advertiser could heal the conditions referred to; and
the ads were irresponsible, because they provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions.
The ASA challenged whether the ads could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
1., 2. & 3. Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that HOTS sought to promote their faith and the hope for physical healing by God through the claims in their ads. However, we were concerned that the prominent references in ad (b) to healing and the statement You have
nothing to lose, except your sickness in combination with the references to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought such as arthritis, asthma, MS, addictions, depression and paralysis, could give consumers the
expectation that, by receiving prayer from HOTS volunteers, they would be healed of the conditions listed or other sicknesses from which they suffered. We also considered that the testimonials in ad (a) could also give consumers that expectation,
and furthermore, noted that a video on the website also made claims that HOTS volunteers had successfully prayed for healing for people with cancer, fibromyalgia, back pain, kidney pain, hip pain, cataracts, arthritis and paralysis. We noted the
testimonials on the website and in the video but considered that testimonials were insufficient as evidence for claims of healing. We therefore concluded the ads were misleading.
We acknowledged that HOTS volunteers believed that prayer could treat illness and medical conditions, and that therefore the ads did not promote false hope. However, we noted we had not seen evidence that people had been healed through the prayer
of HOTS volunteers, and concluded that the ads could encourage false hope in those suffering from the named conditions and therefore were irresponsible.
We acknowledged that HOTS had offered to make amendments to the ads, and to remove the leaflet from their website. However, we considered that their suggested amendments were not sufficient for the ads to comply with the CAP Code.
On these points, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 3.1 and 3.6 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.47 (Endorsements and testimonials), 12.1 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related
products and beauty products).
We understood that HOTS volunteers were instructed to give a letter to the recipients of prayer which told them they should not stop taking their medication or following the advice of medical professionals. We also noted their offer to add a
prominent reference along the lines of that letter to their website. However, we considered that, because both the leaflet and the website made claims that through the prayer offered by HOTS volunteers people could be healed of specific medical
conditions for which medical supervision should be sought such as arthritis, asthma, MS, addictions, depression and paralysis, the ads could discourage people, and particularly the vulnerable or those suffering from undiagnosed symptoms, from
seeking essential treatment for medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We concluded the ad breached the Code.
On this point, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products). Action
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their
ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
We are disappointed with the ASA's decision, and will appeal against it because it seems very odd to us that the ASA wants to prevent us from stating on our website the basic Christian belief that God can heal illness.
The ASA has even demanded that we sign a document agreeing not to say this, which is unacceptable to us - as it no doubt would be for anyone ordered not to make certain statements about their conventional religious or philosophical beliefs.
All over the world as part of their normal Christian life, Christians believe in, pray for and experience God's healing; our ministry, in common with many churches, has been active in praying for God's healing (of Christians and non Christians)
for many years.
Over that time the response to what we do has been overwhelmingly positive, and we find it difficult to understand the ASA's attempt to restrict communication about this. Our website simply states our beliefs and describes some of our
We tried to reach a compromise, recognising some of the ASA's concerns, but there are certain things that we cannot agree to -- including a ban on expressing our beliefs.
The ASA originally received four complaints about Urban Tiger's poster ad in August 2011. The ASA Council considered the ad in early September, and concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, would not be seen as
objectifying women and would not be likely to cause harm to children.
On 7 October 2011, the ASA issued new [more restrictive] guidance on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising. In accordance with that new guidance, we are considering Urban Tiger's ad again in light of the new complaint we have received.
A poster, for a lap dancing club, viewed on 14 October 2011, was headed URBAN TIGER GENTLEMAN'S CLUB NORTHAMPTON'S FINEST LAPDANCING CLUB - Luxurious table dancing venue - Stag Parties & special events - Corporate entertainment . To
the right-hand side of the poster was an image of a woman wearing a sheer white dress cut to the waist. Her hair covered her cleavage. She sat side-on, facing to the left, and leant back slightly on her left arm. Her right arm rested on her left
knee. Her legs were exposed from the thigh down. Issue
The complainant challenged whether, given its content and the nature of the advertised venue, the ad was unsuitable for display close to a primary school where it could be seen by children.
Urban Crowd said that they believed the ASA might have received a complaint about the ad not because of its content, but because the complainant might object to the type of business it was advertising. They said they were very conscious of
objections to the nature of their business and as a result were sensitive about the content of their advertising, and it was their policy to avoid using images which were too revealing or controversial. They said they believed the ad in question
followed that policy; it advertised their business but the model was wearing a significant amount of clothing and was not in a pose that could be considered sexual. They said poster ads advertising products such as underwear and deodorant often
featured models wearing less clothing. They added that they also believed there was nothing in the text of the ad which was offensive.
Urban Crowd said the ad in question was on a major road which was two streets, and approximately 400 metres away, from the entrance to the school the complainant had mentioned. They thought the location was not one where all the children would
see it as they arrived or departed from school.
Clear Channel, who owned the poster site, said they had placed a restriction on the ad so that it would not be displayed within 100 metres of schools. They said that the ASA had reviewed the ad in September 2011 after receiving complaints, but
had concluded that no further action was warranted. They said that for those reasons they considered the ad was in compliance with the newly established rules following the Bailey Report into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood.
ASA Assessment: Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that in the context of an ad for a lap dancing club, it was likely that most images of women would be interpreted to be at least mildly sexual because of the nature of the service advertised. However, we noted the Code stated
that the fact that a product was offensive to some people was not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. We therefore considered the ad on the basis of the image, the text and the ad's overall impression.
We considered that the overall impression of the ad was that it was only mildly sexual. We noted the text that described the club used non-sexual language and considered that the woman's stance was not sexually suggestive. We noted that although
the woman's dress was cut to the waist, her hair completely covered her cleavage and considered that although she was leaning back she was not arching her back in a sexually provocative way. For those reasons, we considered the ad was only mildly
sexual and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen as socially irresponsible. However, we welcomed the policy Urban Tiger had in place with regard to the placement of their ads, and Clear Channel's decision to impose a
restriction to ensure that the ad would not be displayed within 100 metres of a school.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Irresponsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
The ASA is now investigating Snickers' digital advertising campaign - in which Ferdinand, Price, Ian Botham and X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd posted messages on Twitter promoting the chocolate bar. They all received payment from the chocolate
bar company to do so.
The ASA is now investigating whether the celebrities' first teaser tweets should have indicated that they were part of an advert and whether the final reveal tweet alongside of themselves holding the chocolate, made it clear enough
that the tweet was an advert.
The promotion of the chocolate bar via Twitter also ignores the Office of Fair Trading's advice that celebrities should make it clear when they promoting or endorsing a product. The OFT has warned companies that deceptive advertising has
to stop. An OFT spokesman said: Online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid for promotions are deceptive under trading laws.
A magazine ad, for the clothing brand Bench , appeared in the spring 12 issue of Drapers Streetwear . It featured young people, who were on sofas in a backstage setting. There were crushed cups on the floor and various items,
including more cups, drinks cans, fruit, bottled water and unlabelled alcohol bottles, were shown on a coffee table.
A complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because she believed it was likely to appeal particularly to people aged under 18.
ASA Decision: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted the ad included scenes from a backstage setting, which we considered were likely to appeal to under-18s who saw it, by being associated with youth culture. We also noted, however, the ad appeared in a trade-specific publication that
was targeted at those aged over 18 years. We considered it was unlikely that under-18s would see the ad and therefore that its appeal to that age group was limited by it being targeted. Because it was not directed at people under 18, we concluded
that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 18.1, 18.14 and 18.15 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
ASA has unveiled a new logo following a rebrand to coincide with the start of a year in which it celebrates 50 years of what it likes to consider as keeping UK advertising legal, decent, honest and truthful.
The ASA was established on 24 September 1962 to regulate non-broadcast advertising. Since then the remit has been extended to TV + radio ads and more recently to cover online ads.
The ASA will be marking this milestone through a variety of activities over the next 12 months.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) are the bodies responsible for writing and revising the rules in the UK Advertising Codes.
CAP and BCAP have made changes to the UK Advertising Code rules relating to the advertising of post-conception advice services (PCAS). PCAS offer a range of services to women, including for example advice on health and well-being, provision of
ultrasound services, as well as advice about women's choice to continue with their pregnancy or to have a termination.
NHS-accredited PCAS must provide a full range of impartial advice to women about all available options including termination, for which treatment they may refer women in some cases. Other advice services also operate, which for various reasons,
some ethical or religious, do not refer women for termination.
In 2009, CAP and BCAP conducted a thorough review of advertising rules in this area. BCAP saw no reason to maintain difference in regulation between radio and television for PCAS: nor did it see a justification for discriminating between
commercially and not-for-profit based service providers. Moreover, on the grounds of public health, it proposed a new rule to protect potentially vulnerable women from being misled by advertisements.
BCAP then initiated a public consultation over their proposals:
To allow commercial providers of PCAS to advertise on television, subject to the same rules that applied to non-commercial PCAS providers, who could already advertise on TV.
Removing the radio rule permitting advertising only by those Family Planning Centres (FPCs) with local authority or NHS approval.
Extending an existing radio rule to television, requiring medical and health advice services to provide suitable credentials before being able to advertise;
Introducing a new rule to require services offering post-conception advice on pregnancy that do not directly refer women for a termination to make that fact clear in their advertisements.
The outcome from the consultation resulted in the new rules:
Broadcasting code rule 11.11.1:
Advertisements for services offering advice on unplanned pregnancy must make clear in the advertisement if the service does not refer women directly for a termination. Given that terminations are lawful only in some circumstances, and are
subject to particularly stringent requirements in Northern Ireland, advertisers may wish to seek legal advice before advertising. The UK
Non-broadcast Advertising, rule 12.24:
Marketing communications for services offering advice on unplanned pregnancy must make clear if the service does not refer women directly for a termination. Given that terminations are lawful only in some circumstances, and are subject to
particularly stringent requirements in Northern Ireland, marketers may wish to seek legal advice.
A TV ad, for a Lady Gaga CD, Born This Way , featured clips from various music videos including shots of the singer dressed in stockings, suspenders and body harness, crouched on the ground in the same costume, and sensually rubbing
her bare stomach with her hands.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast who considered a timing restriction was not necessary.
A viewer, who saw the ad with her children, aged four to 16 years, challenged whether the ad was suitable to be broadcast when children might be watching.
Universal Music said the ad was a compilation of clips from Lady Gaga videos, which were frequently aired on high rotation across UK music channels at all times of the day and therefore did not believe that a timing restriction was necessary.
They said they scheduled the ad in programmes aimed at their target audience of 16 to 44 year-old women.
ASA Assessment: complaint not upheld
The ASA understood that the ad consisted of clips from Lady Gaga promotional videos and noted that although the images featured the singer's trade mark outrageous costumes and performance style the majority of the clips were not overtly sexual.
However, we noted the opening clip of the singer crawling on the floor with her cleavage in full view, and clips of Lady Gaga slowly rubbing her stomach with her hands, and of her kissing the floor were stronger, albeit brief, images. Although we
considered that the images were suitable for a more general audience, we considered that a timing restriction would have been appropriate in order to keep the material away from programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to
appeal particularly to children. However, we noted Universal Music had specifically scheduled the ad in and around programmes that would appeal to their target audience of 16- to 44-year-old women.
Because the ad had been carefully scheduled, reducing the likelihood of children seeing it, we concluded that the scheduling had not breached the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
A poster promoting an album by a rock band, seen in October 2011, showed an image of a woman leaning back with her eyes closed. She was shown wearing a skimpy halter-neck outfit which covered her nipples but left her stomach and the bottom of
her breasts uncovered. Her right hand was placed by her crotch and she was holding a string with two silver balls attached, which dangled between her legs. The band's name appeared in the middle of the image and beneath it, large text stated BALLS OUT
Underneath, the ad showed an image of the four members of the band and text which stated THE NEW ALBUM UNLEASHED FOR HALLOWEEN... Issue
Imkaan, a charity devoted to raising awareness and offering support to women from ethnic backgrounds who were victims of abuse and violence, and four members of the public challenged whether the ad was:
offensive, because they considered the image of the woman was demeaning and overtly sexual in its nature.
Imkaan and three of the members of the public also challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for public display where it might be seen by children.
Universal Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Ltd said that the poster depicted the album cover for the rock band, Steel Panther who were a pastiche of an 80s heavy metal band who took their inspiration from bands such as
Whitesnake and Bon Jovi. The band's stage performance and persona were very tongue in cheek, nothing about them was serious and their concept was a send-up of the typical 80s band, although their music was new and original. They said the poster
was designed to have a retro 80s look which was not done seriously and poked fun at the ridiculousness of the attitude to women, outfits and music in that era. The poster was meant to be ludicrously over the top and not meant to undermine women.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was not meant to cause offence or be seen as demeaning to women. However, we considered that the main image on the poster was overtly sexual. We noted that the pose of the woman
showed her with her legs apart, her hand between her legs and her breasts partially exposed and considered that her facial expression was suggestive of an orgasm and sexual activity. In addition to this, we considered that the album title Balls Out
was sexually suggestive particularly when viewed in the context of the poster, where the woman was seen dangling two silver balls between her legs in a way that we considered was suggestive of male genitalia.
We noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was meant to be viewed humorously and not to be taken seriously as it was meant to represent the over-the-top image of the band featured in the poster. However, we considered that most
people would not view the poster in this way and even if they had viewed it in that context, the poster was overtly sexual when taken as a whole. Given its placement in a range of public locations, we concluded that it was likely to cause serious
and widespread offence, was unsuitable to be seen by children and therefore was not appropriate for outdoor advertising.
The poster breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
A TV ad, for the cinema release of the remake Conan the Barbarian , viewed on the Dave channel on 23 August 2011. The ad showed a number of clips from the film. The opening scenes included a man pulling back the hair of two women, and
Conan handling swords and jumping up to punch another character in the face. The ad then showed various battlefield and one-on-one fighting scenes, which included a man being stabbed in the back; a man using a sword to slice through an opponent;
a man riding a horse and stabbing an opponent; a man being thrown to the ground and wounded; another man getting stabbed in the back with an axe; a woman getting scratched in the face; and someone being hit and then a severed head falling on the
ground. The images concluded with Conan stabbing a character in the stomach, and then cutting another character's nose off with a sword. On-screen text appeared at intervals throughout the ad that stated THIS SUMMER ... VENGEANCE ... IS
UNLEASHED ... CONAN THE BARBARIAN ... IN CINEMAS NOW . A voice-over concluded the ad by stating Conan the Barbarian, in cinemas now .
Four complainants challenged whether the images of mutilation, blood and decapitation shown in the ad were offensive and inappropriate for broadcast because of the extreme violence portrayed.
Clearcast responded on behalf of Lions Gate UK Ltd. They said they saw in excess of 60 edits of the ad which were considered on their individual merits. They said the ad was given a post-11pm scheduling restriction, limiting the likelihood of it
being seen by individuals likely to be shocked or unaware that programming, and ads broadcast at that time, might have more violent content than those broadcast earlier.
Clearcast said that the film was not gritty, urban realism but rather clearly set in the fantasy genre and although the shots were bloody, they did not linger, were brief and were fired off in quick succession, and therefore viewers were likely
to be more tolerant of the elements of gore in the ad and it was therefore unlikely to cause widespread offence.
ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted that Clearcast applied a post-11pm restriction and the ad was shown in accordance with those restrictions. Although we noted that the ad showed the characters fighting and was gory in content, we considered that the setting was
fantastical and as such, the scenes in the ad were removed from reality. We considered that the scenes in the ad were very violent, but also considered that the ad reflected the stylised battlefield scenes in the film. Whilst we considered that
the ad was unlikely to suit everyone's taste, because it was broadcast after 11pm, we concluded that it was unlikely to promote violence or cause widespread offence to viewers at that time.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code Rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.1(Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
A Facebook ad and a flyer, for a student club night at Eat My Disco in Sheffield, seen on 12 September 2011, stated GET LAID! EVERY TUESDAY AT REPUBLICA 20TH SEPT FRESHERS SHUTTER SHADES RAVE! FREE SHUTTER SHADES FOR ALL! . Text in a pink
circle stated ?1.50 DRINKS ALL NIGHT . The ad featured a variety of pictures of young people in the club including one of a woman wearing a cropped top and shorts. A speech bubble coming from her shorts had text which stated YOU'RE
GOING TO GET LAID! .
A complainant, who believed the ad depicted people under 16 years of age, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible because it sexualised children.
The ASA challenged whether the ad, which referred to alcohol, breached the Code because it: linked alcohol with sexual success and sexual activity; and
featured people under 25 years of age in significant roles.
1. Eat My Disco (EMD) said nobody under the age of 18 years of age was shown in the ad. They said the pictures used were taken at their previous events where strict ID checks were in place and believed that no one featured appeared to be under
16. They said, however, the speech bubble coming from the girl's shorts was an error and should have been shown coming from her mouth.
2. EMD said the campaign did refer to cheap drinks prices, but at no point did it link the drinks to sexual success. They argued that the drinks prices on the literature appeared only as a standalone piece of information and that the ad did not
imply in any way that, by drinking, people would become more attractive or find the opposite sex more attractive.
3. EMD reiterated that nobody under the age of 18 was shown in the ad. They said they had previously been unaware of the requirement in the Code regarding under-25s in alcohol ads but would ensure that they complied with it in future.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted the complainant's concerns about the suggestive nature of the ad and the age of the people featured. While we took those concerns seriously we considered that, although the women were obviously young, they did not appear to be under
16 years of age and, in the context of the nightclub scenario shown, were likely to be seen as young adults by the majority of readers. We therefore considered that the ad neither depicted nor sexualised children and was not irresponsible.
We noted that the ad had appeared on a Facebook page accessible only to fans of EMD and had been distributed as a flyer in student unions and halls and considered that the vast majority of recipients would be adult students who could choose
whether or not to accept the flyer. Although we considered that the statements GET LAID! and You're going to GET LAID! were clearly sexual references, we noted that the ad did not contain any sexual imagery or graphic content and
considered that its content, while likely to be distasteful to some, was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to the student audience at whom it was targeted.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
We considered that the statements GET LAID! and You're going to GET LAID! were clearly intended to be humorous references to attending the event with a view to finding a sexual partner. We noted that the ad also stated
£ 1.50 DRINKS ALL NIGHT and we considered that, by including a reference to alcohol alongside the sexually suggestive text, the ad breached the Code by linking alcohol with sexual success and sexual activity.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code rule 18.5 (Alcohol).
We noted that the Code required that marketing communications for alcoholic drinks and marketing communications that feature or refer to alcoholic drinks should not show people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age in a significant
role. We noted, however, that the ad included the price for alcoholic drinks at the event and considered that the majority of the people pictured in the ad featured prominently and looked under 25. We noted that EMD could only provide an
assurance that the people were over 18. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code on this point.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code rule 18.16 (Alcohol).
A poster advertising lingerie, seen on the side of buses in early November 2011, stated Introducing Naked Glamour Calvin Klein Underwear and featured five images of a model wearing a bra and briefs.
The complainant, an Orthodox Cherdi Jew, objected that:
the ad was offensive to the large Orthodox Jewish population of Stamford Hill, whose religious beliefs required them not to see images of women wearing only underwear;
it was irresponsible to display the ad in untargeted media in public as it would be seen by children.
Calvin Klein said they did not believe that the ad was offensive or socially irresponsible. They said the ad merely featured the product, their underwear range, being worn by a model. They believed it was reasonable to feature models wearing
underwear when advertising these products, and that the ad was neither sexually suggestive nor overtly sexual. They also said their media vendor had not believed that the ad fell into the risky category, and had been happy for the ad
campaign to proceed.
ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that there was no explicit nudity in the images, and that the ad was for an underwear range. We considered that the nature of the product meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous or offensive, and
noted that the poses of the model were natural. We considered that the ad might be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was
featured. However, although we recognised that some people with strongly held religious views may find the ad distasteful, we did not consider that the ad was likely to cause widespread offence or serious offence to those with religious views.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We noted the complainant's concerns that this ad, displayed on buses, was likely to be seen by children. We considered that the ad may be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in
nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was featured. However, we did not consider that the images were overtly sexual, and considered that the ad was acceptable for use in outdoor media likely to be seen by children. We therefore
concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) but did not find it in breach.
An internet video ad, for the 12A rated film Abduction , was viewed on YouTube on 15 September 2011. It appeared before an animated clip called The Duck Song and included action sequences that involved shooting, vehicle chases,
punching, a couple kissing and a man who kicked his way through a glass window. The voice-over stated, An assassin wants him dead ... , which also appeared in text on screen.
A complainant, whose two-year-old saw the ad, challenged whether it was irresponsible, because she believed it was inappropriate to be shown during a video that was addressed to children.
Lions Gate UK Ltd (Lions Gate) said the film Abduction was rated 12A. They said they expected viewers of YouTube to be aged 13 years or over and that YouTube had accepted the online ad and scheduled its appearances. They said the TV version of
the ad had been cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction and the online version was substantially the same. Lions Gate said they worked hard to avoid causing offence or distress to viewers.
YouTube said they were not able to verify whether the ad had appeared before The Duck Song clip. They said it must have appeared on a YouTube partner page, however, because those were the only pages on which advertising could appear. They
said if content on partner pages was flagged as being suitable only for adult users, no ads would appear. YouTube said their terms of service meant that viewers must be aged 13 or over and stated If you are under 13 years of age, then please
do not use the Service. There are lots of other great websites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you . They said if viewers aged under-13 viewed the site regardless, there was a risk they would see content or
ads that were not suited to children under the age of 13. They said the exact ads they saw would depend on a number of factors, including whether the parent had signed into their YouTube account before viewing, whether they had enabled safe
search on their account and what targeting methods the advertiser had used when they placed their ad.
They said there were other methods of targeting for advertisers who wanted their ads to reach as many consumers as possible; for example a banner ad at the top of the homepage or First Watch ads, which allowed advertisers to run an ad so it was
seen only once by a user visiting a YouTube partner page on any given day. Those ads could appear on any partner page. However, all advertisers were contractually obliged to make sure the ads were family safe and complied with all terms
and conditions and YouTube ad policies, including, for First Watch ads, the more restrictive policy that was specific to the home page. YouTube double-checked compliance with the home page policy before accepting ads via First Watch. They said
the Lions Gate ad was placed via First Watch and therefore it could appear to any YouTube user, regardless of whether or not they had logged in. They said they considered the ad to be family safe because although the scenes were cut
quickly and much of the filming was dark and suggestive, there was no explicit violence, no blood or scenes of death, no shooting victims (only sounds of shots fired) and no adult language or explicit sexual content.
They said the website was merely a platform and they were not responsible for the content of videos or ads that might appear. It was for advertisers to ensure their ads were targeted appropriately, and partners who did not want ads, including
First Watch ads, to appear against content they uploaded did not have to do so. They said they were always willing to listen to comments and suggestions from their users, who could report ads they felt violated their community guidelines or ad
ASA Decision: Complaint Upheld
The ASA noted the ad reflected the content of an action film. We considered, however, it included some scenes, in particular those of shooting, explosions and punching, that were unsuitable for younger children. We noted that in order to create a
YouTube account, users were required to confirm that they were at least 13 years old. We also noted, however, material on the site could be viewed without logging in and therefore it was not possible to prevent under-13-year-olds from viewing
material. We noted that users could also be unaware of that policy. We also noted that information YouTube provided indicated to potential advertisers that, based on US figures from 2010, they understood seven per cent of unique visitors to be
aged two to eleven and a further nine per cent to be aged 12 to 17, with those audiences described as having 39% and 61% Reach of Online Universe respectively. We acknowledged that data was relevant to a different market but considered it
nevertheless indicated that children were likely to view footage, and therefore ads, on YouTube. We noted YouTube offered advertisers the option of age-gating their marketing material, whereby the ad was targeted via the date of birth
registration held for users; only users who were logged in and met the relevant age criteria would see such an ad. We considered the The Duck Song clip during which the ad appeared, was likely to appeal to children and noted the ad was
served in such a way that it could be viewed by all YouTube users, even if they had not logged in. Because it included scenes that were unsuitable for younger children and it could be viewed by all YouTube users, we considered the ad was
inappropriately targeted. We therefore concluded that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 5.1 (Children). Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Lions Gate to ensure that future marketing communications addressed to, targeted directly at or featuring children contained nothing that was likely to result in their physical, mental or
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint from the National Secular Society which had accused the ASA of unreasonably restricting freedom of expression by banning advertisements too readily if they risk offending even a
In a long justification of its enforcement of the Code of Advertising Practice, the wording of which the NSS also attacked, James Best, chairman of the CAP, refused to accept any of the NSS's points about its banning of ads that poke even mild
fun at religion.
The complaint arose from the banning of a series of advertisements from the ice cream company Antonio Federici, which, in the ASA's word were offensive, because they believed they mocked Catholicism .
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said:
When the adverts were banned, the NSS said that the ASA was introducing a new sort of blasphemy law through the back door. This response from the ASA gives us no reason to change that opinion. When did it become illegal to satirise Catholicism?
We have become increasingly concerned about an unreasonable deference to religion by the ASA. We were particularly irked by the banning of the ice cream ads, one of which (in the ASA's own words) showed two priests in full robes who looked as
though they were about to kiss. One of the men also wore rosary beads and held a spoon in his hand; the other held a tub of ice cream. The ad included text that stated We Believe in Salivation.
The advertisements were ruled by the Authority to have breached the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the number of complainants is often pitifully small, just six in the case of the priests and ice cream ad.
The Code of Advertising Practice includes the ruling that ads:
should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
The NSS complained last year to the ASA, and a high level meeting was arranged between the ASA's chair, Lord Smith of Finsbury (supported by senior executives), and Keith Porteous Wood and NSS senior campaigns officer, Tessa Kendall.
We emphasised the importance of freedom of expression and pointed out that one of their adjudications had recently been overruled by the courts on grounds of freedom of expression. Ironically, the case had been brought by a fundamentalist
church, in respect of the banning of its advert criticising Gay Pride parade inBelfast. The ad was headlined 'The word of God against sodomy' and invited those who opposed the parade to meet peacefully.
a. A TV ad for broadband, viewed on 12 September, featured a toy family in a dolls house, guarded by a row of toy soldiers. The voice-over said, Talk Talk homes have the UK's safest broadband thanks to HomeSafe, free for all customers. No
wonder thousands of homes join Talk Talk every day. Talk Talk, a brighter home for everyone.
b. A poster for broadband, viewed on 19 September, stated The UK's safest broadband is now £ 3.25 a month and Includes HomeSafe, the UK's first and only network level security .
c. A national press ad for broadband, viewed on 28th August, stated The UK's safest broadband £ 3.25 a month. Our great value phone and broadband gives you all this: Half price for 9 months then
£ 6.50 a month for the remaining 3 months. Our ground-breaking new security service, HomeSafe is free to all customers ... . Issue
British Telecommunications (BT) and two members of the public challenged whether the claim UK's safest broadband made in ads (a), (b) and (c) was misleading.
ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that TalkTalk were the only home broadband provider to offer security features that were applied at the network level, rather than to individual devices. We noted that HomeSafe offered three features: content restriction,
which allowed parents to restrict access to inappropriate websites; virus alerts, which alerted users if they viewed a suspect website; and a feature which allowed parents to restrict access to social networking and gaming sites during certain
times of the day. We noted that most other broadband providers supplied security packages to their customers, and that these required software to be downloaded on each individual computer it was to be applied to, and that they were only able to
be used on personal computers running Windows operating systems.
We noted that TalkTalk believed that the claim Talk Talk homes have the UK's safest broadband was accurate as it was based on their being the only broadband provider to offer network level security. However, we considered that the claim
implied that customers would enjoy the safest online experience when using TalkTalk broadband. We also considered that the images shown in the ad reinforced this impression, as a father was pictured relaxing in an armchair whilst two children
used the internet, giving the impression that using TalkTalk meant the actual online experience was the safest. We considered that customers could interpret safest as referring to a number of features, such as virus protection or protection from
hacking, and that Home Safe only offered a basic range of security features. We did not consider that consumers would interpret safest as referring to blocking of inappropriate content, and restricting access to certain sites at certain
times. As Talk Talk were not able to substantiate that customers would enjoy the safest online experience with them, we concluded ad (a) was misleading.
We noted that ad (b) stated Includes HomeSafe, the UK's first and only network level security . However, we did not consider that consumers would interpret this as being the full basis for the claim UK's safest broadband , as the
word includes implied that it was only part of a fuller package. We also considered consumers were unlikely to understand what network level security meant, as it was not a commonly used term in home broadband, and that it could be
easily misinterpreted to refer to other features such as the security of the wireless connection. We considered that the claim implied that customers would enjoy the safest online experience when using TalkTalk broadband, and that the
qualification used did not sufficiently counteract this impression. As Talk Talk were not able to substantiate that customers would enjoy the safest online experience with them, we concluded ad (b) was misleading.
We noted that ad (c) stated Our ground-breaking new security service, HomeSafe is free to all customers . However, we considered that the ad did not make it clear that this was the basis for the claim UK's safest broadband , and
that the ad did not provide any details of the features provided by HomeSafe. We considered that the claim implied that customers would enjoy the safest online experience when using TalkTalk broadband, and that the qualification used did not
sufficiently counteract this impression. As Talk Talk were not able to substantiate that customers would enjoy the safest online experience with them, we concluded ad (c) was misleading.
Ad (a) breached BCAP Codes rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 3.38 (Other comparisons).
Ads (b) and (c) breached CAP Codes rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.38 (Other comparisons). Action
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told TalkTalk to ensure that the basis for comparative claims was made clear in future.
A circular for a club night at Riverside in Newcastle, delivered as a door drop in October 2011, featured an image of a woman crouching in front of a man with her buttocks on display from beneath her dress. Foam spurted from the man's crotch.
Text stated every Wednesday TEQUILA come and swallow . A cartoon image of a mouth appeared in the top-left corner with the slogan dedicated to oral pleasure . The reverse of the circular featured the same image and additional text
about the club night. A review stated A spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery . Other text stated Tequilas [sic] coming to Newcastle ... will you swallow? ... we are here for your pleasure and your pleasure alone ... Tequila is
where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place! What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university. Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced . Issue
1. A complainant challenged whether the circular was offensive and unsuitable for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.
The ASA challenged whether the circular:
2. condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol; and
3. linked alcohol with sexual activity.
Stage One Events Inc. (Stage One Events) apologised that the circular had caused offence in the local community. They said that it had been put through doors in the local area over one weekend as part of a campaign to launch a new student event
in a very diluted market. It was felt that this would help the business and would offer a new event to the students of Newcastle and add to the social life of those attending university in the city, whilst also creating jobs in a stagnant market.
ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld
We noted Stage One Events' argument that they created the circular to launch a new business in the area. We considered, however, that the image on the circular was sexually explicit and noted that claims on the circular come and swallow and
dedicated to oral pleasure were clearly intended as sexual innuendo. We considered the text on the reverse of the circular which promised the hottest and sexiest experiences and ended with the claim Newcastle ... get ready to be
seduced were sexually suggestive. We concluded therefore that the circular was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was not appropriate for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications to contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, including excessive drinking. We considered however that there was a clear inference that
excessive drinking was acceptable and condoned from anyone attending the event advertised in the circular. Aside from the fact that the event was called Tequila , named after a well-known high-strength spirit, we noted that the circular
included an apparent quote from a newspaper which described the event as a spirit-fuelled den the inclusion of which we considered took a celebratory tone which highlighted the fact alcohol consumption was condoned. We also considered that
the claim What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university encouraged the excessive consumption of alcohol to the point where guests would be so drunk that they could not recall what they had done during the
previous evening. Because of a clear association with alcohol and excessive drinking, we considered that the circular condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rule 18.1 (Alcohol).
We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications not to link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success. We considered that the image on the front of the circular was sexually explicit and the accompanying text will
you swallow , come and swallow and dedicated to oral pleasure was sexually suggestive. We further considered that the claims on the reverse of the circular Tequila is where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place
and Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced had sexual connotations. Because these claims and the image appeared in the circular which advertised an event which was heavily linked to alcohol consumption, gave details of drinks prices and was
called Tequila , we considered that there was a link to sexual activity, and the circular gave out the message that drinking alcohol was preliminary to sex or made sexual activity very likely. We also considered that the newspaper quote
a spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery condoned reckless and irresponsible sexual behaviour and alcohol consumption. Because of this, we concluded that the circular was irresponsible.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rule 18.5 (Alcohol).
A regional press ad for a Hustler Club UK which appeared on 15 September 2011 featured a blackboard, a pile of books on top of which sat an apple and a discarded bra. Text stated Back to school. JOIN OUR SCHOOL GIRL PARTY EVERY FRIDAY FOR FOUR
WEEKS STARTING 23RD SEPTEMBER. SEE YOUR FAVOURITE HUSTLER HONEYS & STAFF IN THEIR SCHOOL UNIFORMS .
A reader challenged whether the ad was:
offensive and irresponsible because it promoted the idea of school children as sexual objects; and
unsuitable to appear in a publication which children might see.
ASA Decision: Complaints Not Upheld
1. Not Upheld
The ASA noted the reference to Back to school and associated school items such as books, a blackboard and an apple. We considered that in the context of the ad, the claim Join our school girl party which appeared in conjunction with
the claim SEE YOUR FAVOURITE HUSTLER HONEYS & STAFF IN THEIR SCHOOL UNIFORMS was likely to be understood as referring to the Hustler staff as the ones dressed in school uniform. We noted that the ad did not feature any one dressed in
school uniform. Whilst we understood that some readers may object to the choice of theme night, we considered that the ad would be unlikely to be seen as promoting school children as sexual objects. We concluded that the ad was not irresponsible
and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not Upheld
We noted the ad did not include any nudity, references to sexual activity and did not feature any one dressed in school uniform. We noted the readership figures of the publication and that it was mostly read by adults. Although we considered the
ad was unlikely to be seen by children, we noted that it could attract the attention of some children because it was a full-page ad, that featured a blackboard and the text back to school and because it appeared shortly after the start of
the new school term. In any case, we considered that children who saw the ad were unlikely to understand the nature of the adult service being advertised. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen by children and that the ad was
not unsuitable for children to see.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) but did not find it in breach.
a. A large poster sited on a road in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, seen in September 2011, stated in large text SEXy ADULT STORE . An image next to the text showed a woman in a bunny girl outfit, posing with her finger to her open lips.
b. A large poster, which replaced ad (a) sited on a road in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, seen in October 2011, stated in large text SEXy ADULT STORE . An image next to the text showed a woman dressed in a French maid's outfit, holding a feather
c. A large poster sited on a dual carriageway in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, seen in October 2011, stated in large text SEXY SUPERSTORE . An image next to the text showed a woman dressed in a French maid's outfit, holding a feather duster.
A member of the public and a local councillor challenged whether ad (a) was unsuitable to be seen by children.
The local councillor also challenged whether ad (a) was offensive.
A member of the public challenged whether ad (b) was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children.
Two members of the public, who considered ad (c) was demeaning to women, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children.
Cocktails Ltd said that all their advertising was done in-house and they had used various forms of media including radio, press and billboard since starting the business in 1997. This advertising had always followed a similar format, promoting a
sexy shopping theme, including their company name Pulse & Cocktails and also wording used on the store signage to describe the store as either a Sexy Superstore or a Sexy Adult Store instead of the traditional Sex
Shop . They said they had always used the word sexy to describe their stores as it was less harsh than the word sex .
They said that the images used on their posters and in the press were of models dressed in fancy dress costume and these varied slightly, depending on the season and had ranged from a Bunny Girl costume, Miss Santa, a Sexy Maid and a Cow Girl.
These costumes were not skimpy and were now so mainstream that they could be purchased from general, high street clothing stores and supermarkets. The images used in their advertising were direct from the costume manufacturers and in addition to
the advertising, the costumes and images were displayed on their store windows and mannequins.
Cocktails Ltd said that their posters were intended to have a sexier edge because they were advertising their business but they were not intended to be offensive, demeaning to women or overtly sexual , so as to be harmful to children.
Cocktails Ltd stated that they selected the sites for the posters based on proximity to local stores and had not taken into consideration whether or not they were likely to be seen by children. Cocktails Ltd finished by saying that they had seven
billboard campaigns at sites in Leeds, Hitchin, Cheltenham, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and Gloucester, which were all within close proximity to one of their stores. These sites had run continuously for several years and had been chosen
specifically because of their locations. They said that they did not run generic billboard campaigns randomly throughout the country and the posters advertised specific stores and were purely used for directional purposes to guide customers
travelling by car, on to the correct road. '
ASA Assessment: 1, 2, 3 & 4 Not upheld
The ASA noted the complainants' concerns and we considered that the images on each poster were mildly sexual. We also noted that the text on posters (a) and (b) highlighted the letters SEX in the word SEXy and taking into account
the service advertised on each of the posters along with the text and the images, we considered that the main message of the posters was of a sexual nature. However, we considered that the posters were not overtly sexual and were therefore
suitable for outdoor advertising.
We did, however, consider that because the posters were of a sexual nature they were unsuitable to be seen by children and should be subject to a placement restriction and should therefore not appear within 100m of schools. In the case of each
poster, we noted that this was already the case.
We investigated the posters under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach. Action