a. A TV ad for the computer game Battlefield 4 included a voice-over which stated, If you're into rushing headlong into chaos, changing the map with one well placed shot, base jumping off of a sky scraper, joy riding tanks and the
glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war. We'll see you there. The ad featured scenes from the game. The ad was given an ex-kids restriction by Clearcast.
b. A VOD ad for the computer game Battlefield 4, which was the same as TV ad (a) was seen on 4OD, ITVplayer and STVplayer.
c. A website ad for the same game on the advertisers own website www.battlefield.com/uk included images of the game and the claims Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in the Battlefield 4 Multiplayer Launch Trailer and Get intel on
the single player campaign and learn about the glorious chaos of all-out war in Battlefield 4 multiplayer . Issue
39 complaints were received.
All complainants objected that ads (a), (b) and (c), particularly the claims the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war and the glorious chaos of all-out war were offensive because they glamorised war.
Some of the complainants challenged whether ad (a) had been inappropriately scheduled for broadcast on Remembrance Sunday and on the days around it.
Some of complainants objected that ads (a), (b) and (c) were offensive and disrespectful to servicemen and woman and their families and to ex-members of the armed forces and their families.
Some of complainants challenged whether ad (a) was inappropriate for broadcast when it might be seen by children.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted EA's intention was to draw attention to the multi-player functionality. However, we noted that although website ad (c) included several references to multi-player , TV ad (a) and VOD ad (b) made no clear reference to that
functionality. We considered that consumers would understand from the text in ad (c) and the voice-over in ads (a) and (b) (both the words and the way in which they were delivered by the actor with a sense of thrill), alongside the images of
footage from the game which included tanks, shooting and explosions both on the battlefield and city streets, that playing at war through the game was exciting and thrilling. Although we understood some consumers would find the voice-over
the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war in ads (a) and (b) and the text Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in ad (c) to be distasteful and upsetting, we considered that within the context of the ads in their entirety,
those claims would be understood by consumers to be in reference to game-play and not to war itself. We therefore concluded that the ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence
2. Not upheld
We noted that some complainants had seen ad (a) on or around Remembrance Sunday but noted no specific complaints were received about the ad being broadcast around programmes specifically dedicated to Remembrance Sunday . Although we understood
some consumers found the timing to be distasteful, we considered that the ad would be understood to be about game-play and not war itself and that the broadcast of the ad campaign around this time was unlikely to cause serious or widespread
3. Not upheld
Although we understood some consumers, including servicemen and women and their families (along with ex-members of the armed forces) may have found the voice-over the glorious mind-blowing freedom of all out war in ads (a) and (b) and the
text Witness the glorious chaos of all-out war in ad (c) to be distasteful and upsetting, we considered that within the context of the ads in their entirety, those claims would be understood to be reference to game-play and not to war
itself. We therefore concluded that the ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that they were not disrespectful to those who had directly experienced or been directly or indirectly affected by war.
4. Not upheld
We noted the ad was given an Ex-kids restriction meaning that it was not broadcast around programmes that were directly targeted at young children. We also noted EA's media buying agency only bought advertising space after 19.30 because the game
itself had an PEGI 18 rating. Although we understood some viewers would be concerned that older children may have seen the ad if watching after 19.30, we considered there was nothing within the content of the ad that made it unsuitable for older
children and noted the featured game-play did not include footage which directly reflected the given PEGI rating. We therefore considered that the given ex-kids restriction was sufficient. We concluded that ad (a) did not breach the Code.
We have today ordered that a national press ad for the bookmaker, Paddy Power be withdrawn with immediate effect. On the back of an unprecedented number of complaints, we are investigating whether the ad is offensive for trivialising the issues
surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability; we are also challenging whether, in doing so, it brings the good reputation of advertising generally into dispute.
Following the complaints, ASA Chairman, Lord Smith, has taken the unusual step of directing the advertiser to withdraw the ad from circulation pending the outcome of the investigation. In exceptional circumstances ASA procedures under the
Advertising Code allow us to take interim action and have ads amended or withdrawn pending investigation.
The national press ad included an image of an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL
IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY .
We consider the ad may be seriously prejudicial to the general public on the ground of the likely further serious and/or widespread offence it may cause. We are also concerned that the good reputation of the advertising industry may be further
damaged by continued publication of this ad.
The ASA is not investigating complaints about the ad appearing on Paddy Power's own website. The advertiser is based in Ireland and as a consequence the material on its website falls outside our remit.
The ad should remain out of circulation in all UK media until the investigation, which is being fast tracked, has been considered by the ASA Council and its decision is published on our website www.asa.org.uk. We welcome Paddy Power's willingness
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain ordered the offending, and many would say offensive, advert pulled just days after it appeared, following over 5,200 complaints and an online petition with more than 122, 000 signatures. But by
then the ad had appeared in news stories worldwide, reproduced in full Technicolor, taking up large swathes of newspaper space that Mr Power didn't have to pay for. Job done, we'd say.
Update: ASA claims that Paddy Power brought advertising into disrepute
An ad for a bookmaker, which appeared in The Sun on Sunday, included an image similar to an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL
REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY . Issue
1. 5525 complainants, who variously believed the ad was insensitive by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and also disability, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. The ASA challenged whether the ad brought advertising into disrepute.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA welcomed Paddy Power's cooperation in responding promptly and their confirmation that the ad would not be repeated in the UK pending the outcome of the investigation, as directed by the ASA.
We acknowledged that, while the bet offered was likely to be seen as distasteful by some readers, the ad was for a product we understood was offered legitimately. We also acknowledged that the ad made no explicit reference to death or violence.
However, we considered that by making reference to a high profile murder trial, the ad would be interpreted by readers as being inextricably related to the sensitive issues surrounding the trial, and to be making an implied reference to the person
who had died. The CAP Code stated that references to anyone who was dead must be handled with particular care. We considered the ad, in particular the text IT'S OSCAR TIME and MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS , was likely to be interpreted as
making light of the issues surrounding the trial, which included the death of a woman who had been shot by her boyfriend. We also considered the text MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL
IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY was likely to be seen as making light of the serious decision making process involved in that trial. We therefore considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and that it was likely to cause serious
or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday by trivialising the sensitive issues surrounding the murder trial.
We acknowledged that the ad made no visual reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability and that the reference IF HE WALKS would be understood to be related to the outcome of a criminal trial. However, we considered that text would also be
understood by readers as a clear reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability. We again considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and we were concerned that using the pun IF HE WALKS made light of disability. The CAP Code
stated that particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of disability and we considered that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday.
For the reasons given, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
We acknowledged that the ad had appeared in the context of a high profile murder trial that had received extensive media coverage and was of interest to the public. We considered it would therefore have been reasonable to foresee that serious or
widespread offence was likely to be caused by placing an ad that sought commercial advantage based on that trial and which made light of the sensitive issues involved. Given the content of the ad, and the prevailing circumstances at the time of
its publication, we concluded that it brought advertising into disrepute.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Paddy Power to ensure their future ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and did not bring advertising into disrepute.
A TV ad for the film Thanks for Sharing began with a shot of a city, followed by quick shots of two billboards featuring women in their underwear. A voice-over stated, Life as a sex addict - it's hard. Further scenes showed a male
character being caught filming up his female boss's skirt, and rubbing his groin against a woman's bottom on a subway train. Another male character was shown on dates with a woman, followed by a scene in which she was seen approaching him
seductively, wearing lingerie, and saying, Hey baby, you wanna dance? The voice-over stated Thanks for Sharing.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction.
The ASA received five complaints:
1. Two complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, irresponsible and harmful, because it depicted non-consensual sexual acts and a women dressed in a sexually provocative way.
2. All the complainants challenged whether the ad was suitable for broadcast at times when children might be watching.
1. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged the ad included scenes of non-consensual sexual behaviour, but noted the incident in which the man filmed up his boss' skirt was described as the reason he was sacked from his job, and when he rubbed himself against a woman on
a subway train she turned and punched him in the face. We considered the ad conveyed that the man's actions were unacceptable and that it was right that he was punished for them. We acknowledged the ad also included a scene in which a woman in
lingerie approached a man in a sexually provocative way, but we noted there was no explicit nudity, the scene was brief and there was no physical contact between the characters.
We concluded the ad did not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment, crime or anti-social behaviour, and that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm.
As noted above, whilst we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread harm or offence, we considered its sexual content meant that it was not suitable for children, and we therefore considered the ex-kids restriction
imposed by Clearcast was appropriate.
However the ASA found that some of TV programmes around the adverts did in fact appeal to kids and so upheld the complaints about the scheduling.
a. The TV ad featured a song about making peace with those around you at Christmas time and featured various scenes such as two women fighting over a toy in a shop and a group of children who broke a window during a snowball fight. One of the
scenes featured a group of carol singers outside an old man's house whilst the song lyrics stated We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and the reply Normally I'd hose you down, but now it just seems wrong .
b. A shorter version of the TV ad featured the same part of the song and lyrics.
c. The VOD version of the ad was the same as ad (b).
Thirty complainants challenged whether the lyrics all our stupid songs in ads (a), (b) and (c) were likely to cause serious and widespread offence because they mocked an element of Christian worship.
KFC believed it was a tongue-in-cheek ad which took a humorous look at the commercialised hype around Christmas. They said the ad typified the perspective of a very stereotypical grumpy old man, based on Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, who was usually
irritated by everything about Christmas, particularly Christmas songs. They said that the ad showed that this year he had seen the error of his ways and that the lyrics sung were vocalising the mind-set of the Ebenezer Scrooge character,
demonstrating how he normally saw the world.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted the storyline about the Carol singers featured them cheerfully singing We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and considered that viewers would understand this to be an ironic reference to the old man's
normal reaction when he heard Carol singers at his door.
We considered that whilst some viewers may have found the lyrics in reference to the Carols to be flippant and at the expense of Carol singers, we noted the ad made clear that the Carol singers were outside someone's house and were not in a Church
or any other place of worship and that they were therefore not representative of Christian singing or the Christian faith more generally. We considered that viewers would understand that in this context, the Carol singers featured in the ad were
representative of Carol singing in general (which included faith based songs and non-faith based songs) which are part of British Christmas tradition and which are sung by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Whilst we understood that some
people of the Christian faith felt that the song lyric in the ad ridiculed their faith, we considered that most viewers would not interpret the lyrics as mocking Christianity (in total or in part) and concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause
serious or widespread offence
A large banner ad, shown on the Yahoo.com e-mail log-in page, promoted the film Carrie . The ad featured an image of a female character covered in blood, standing in front of a car with one of her arms outstretched. The image of the car was
partially obscured by the log-in form, but appeared to be at an angle, and the bonnet was compressed as though it had impacted another object with force. The ad also included an imbedded trailer that had to be clicked before it was shown.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to cause undue fear or distress; and
One complainant, who reported that his young daughter was upset when she viewed the ad, challenged whether it was inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad featured a cropped version of the official poster for the film Carrie and appeared to all Yahoo Mail users prior to log-in. We understood that the film was in the horror genre, and that the image of Carrie covered in blood with her arm outstretched towards a car, which appeared to have stopped due to an unforeseen force, reflected that genre. Whilst we acknowledged that some viewers might find the image unsettling, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress.
2. Not upheld
We understood that the image appeared prior to log-in, and had not been age-gated and could therefore appear to consumers of any age who purposefully or accidentally navigated to the page, including children. We considered, however, that younger
children would not have a Yahoo Mail account and were unlikely to be using the internet to access Yahoo Mail unsupervised. Although we acknowledged that the some younger children might not like seeing the image of Carrie covered in blood,
we did not consider that it was likely to cause harm to children. Therefore, we concluded that the ad was not unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children.
A TV ad for Halfords featured two men in a garage. The older man was fitting a battery in the younger man's car. The older man said, You're good to go then , to which the younger man replied, Thanks so much Bob. Let me know if I can ever
return the favour. Bob said, There is one thing. Pose for me David. I'm tired of painting you from memory. David smiled weakly while Bob stood holding a paint palette and paintbrush. The garage door was seen slowly closing. A voice-over
stated At Halfords we fit batteries in the car park from 6.99. Much cheaper than a favour. The final shot showed a series of paintings. One painting was of a centaur with a naked torso and David's face. Others were sketches of a nude man.
On-screen text stated #WorstFavour. halfords we ft. Cheaper than a favour . Issue
1. Some of the complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it was sexually suggestive and implied that an older man was taking advantage of a younger man in a sexual way. Some of the complainants referred to the Jimmy Savile case
and drew parallels between the ad and teenagers being groomed for sexually explicit pictures by paedophiles.
2. Some of the complainants challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for children to see.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not Upheld
The ASA understood that in an ad based on the theme of owing an unpleasant favour, an older man asking a younger man to pose for him could be considered inappropriate. However, we considered that the overall tone of the ad was supposed to be
light-hearted and surreal and, while Bob was noticeably older than David, David was clearly a grown man in his twenties.
We considered that some viewers might interpret the events of the ad to mean that Bob thought about David in a sexual way but, while we noted that Bob clearly considered David a muse for his paintings, as evidenced by his comment I'm tired of
painting you from memory , we did not consider that his actions or behaviour went further than that. Although we acknowledged that David looked uncomfortable at being asked to pose for Bob, it did not seem to be because he was concerned about
Bob's intentions or thought Bob was interested in him in a sexual way. Bob seemed shy and embarrassed when asking David to pose for him and we considered that David's reaction was an awkward laugh of disbelief rather than one of fear or concern.
We noted that after Bob had made his request, the garage door slowly closed as Bob faced David, holding his palette and paintbrush. We noted that this could have connotations of entrapment or secrecy, but considered it was not unusual for a model
posing for a painting to do so in private.
We noted that David appeared shirtless in Bob's sketches and it was not clear whether they were painted before or after the encounter. However, we accepted that they were the sort of sketches an amateur artist would be likely to produce and we
considered the images, particularly the one depicting David as a centaur, were more likely to be considered bizarre than sexual or sinister. Overall, while we acknowledged that many viewers found the ad distasteful, we considered it was unlikely
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 noted that a number of complainants had interpreted sexual tension and sinister tones in the ad and felt that Bob's behaviour was predatory. However, we considered that there were no overt suggestions of sexual activity between the two
characters. While we noted that David appeared shirtless in Bob's completed painting, we considered that he was depicted as a centaur, a mythical creature that was traditionally pictured shirtless with the legs of a horse, and that the resulting
image was fantastical rather than sexual. We noted that around the completed painting were rudimentary sketches of a naked torso and back, but they were not graphic or explicit. We considered that any sexual innuendo or imagery in the ad was
subtle and was unlikely to be noticed by children and we therefore concluded that the ad was suitable for children to see.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
Pages on Facebook and Twitter, the website www.tequilauk.com and three videos on Youtube promoted the Tequila club night in Leeds:
a. A photo album entitled Tequila - Freshers Violation 3 October 2013 on Tequila UK's Facebook page contained images taken at a club night, including several of young people holding or drinking alcohol. A sequence of five photos showed a
young woman lying on her back with whipped cream and shot glasses on her breasts. Alcohol was poured into the glasses, and a subsequent image showed her sitting up beside a young man who was making a licking motion in the direction of her
b. Tequila UK's Twitter page stated, as the description of the account, Tequila @ Mezz club - dedicated to oral pleasure ... come and swallow . Six photos were visible on the left of the page; pictures included people dancing together in
groups. One man shown was topless and another was pouring liquid directly into his mouth from a bottle. A third image appeared to show someone grabbing their crotch.
c. The home page of the website www.tequilauk.com featured scrolling images across the top of the page. One showed the torso of a woman wearing a cropped top. Whipped cream and filled shot glasses were placed on her stomach and cleavage and in
her mouth. Text stated WELCOME TO TEQUILA - COME AND SWALLOW . The next image showed a man lifting his shirt and a woman licking his chest. Text stated A NOTORIOUS DEN OF HEDONISM AND DEBAUCHERY . The third image was a crowd scene
of people dancing in a club, beneath a sign that read TEQUILA . Text stated DEDICATED TO ORAL PLEASURE FOR OVER 21 YEARS . The fourth image showed a young topless man lying on his back, with whipped cream smeared across his body.
Empty shot glasses had been placed on his abdomen and in his mouth, and a man standing next to him appeared to be about to fill the glasses from a bottle of spirits he held in his hand.
d. A page on the website www.tequilauk.com promoted the event FRESHERS VIOLATION . Text stated FU*K ME I'M A FRESHER! Introducing pole dancers, tequila cards, tequila cage and more ... Lie on the bar, open your mouths and let someone
pour you some TEQUILA - things are gonna get dirrrty - lets[sic] clean these freshers up!! . The page included an image of a topless young woman lying on the floor with her finger in her mouth and her other hand holding her trousers near to
her crotch. A sign placed across her chest stated TAKE ME . On the right of the page was an image of a woman wearing only underwear being touched by another woman stood behind her. A faded-out background image showed a young woman wearing
a top that stated TEQUILA and drinking from a spirit bottle.
e. Another page on the website www.tequilauk.com promoted the event TEQUILA CLASSIC . Text stated TEQUILA Classic brings together over 20 years of cream, baby oil, glitter and, of course, Tequila in one massive explosion of debauchery
. The page included an image of a woman whose dress had ridden up around her waist, leaving her buttocks exposed, crouching in front of a man. Foam spurted from the area of the man's crotch. Text written across the image stated come &
swallow . The same image of the woman in her underwear as in ad (d) was shown. The background image was the same as in ad (d) but had been cut off above the woman's jawline.
f., g. and h. Three videos on Tequila UK's Youtube channel, entitled Tequila Takes on 2013 , Tequila Exam Slam and Tequila Slammers Reunion respectively, contained footage of young people attending Tequila UK club nights.
The videos showed the consumption of alcohol, including young people drinking multiple shots and pouring spirits directly into each other's mouths. Women in various states of undress were shown lying on a bar, with whipped cream and shot glasses
being placed on their bodies and with other people drinking the alcohol and licking the cream. The footage was interspersed with interview scenes which made frequent reference to alcohol and sex and contained swearing. The videos included
partial nudity, predominantly of women, and in some cases featured a soundtrack containing profanities. In one video a man talked about how much he enjoyed seeing a woman on the bar with whipped cream on her body, and with other women licking it
Leeds City Council challenged whether:
ads (a) to (g) were irresponsible, offensive and harmful, because they were sexist and promoted misogyny and the objectification of women;
ads (b) to (f) and (h) were offensive, because they contained nudity, sexually suggestive language and imagery and profanity;
ads (f) to (h) were irresponsible, because they could be viewed by those aged under 18; and
ads (f) to (h) were in breach of the Code, because they implied, condoned or encouraged excessive consumption of alcohol and featured alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly.
The ASA challenged whether:
5. ads (a) to (e) were in breach of the Code, because they implied, condoned or encouraged excessive consumption of alcohol and featured alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly;
6. ads (a) to (h) breached the Code, because they linked alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success and implied that drinking alcohol was a key component of the success of a social event; and
7. ads (a) to (h) breached the Code, because they showed people drinking alcohol or playing a significant role in the ads who appeared be under the age of 25.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that a number of women were shown in the ads in states of partial undress, with whipped cream and shots placed on their bodies, and in some cases were seen to derive male attention from that action. For example, in ad (a) where the
man pretended to lick the woman's breast and in ad (g) where a man described loving seeing women ... all over each other as they drank shots placed on another woman's body. We also noted the images in ads (d) and (e), including in
particular the pictures of a topless young woman holding a sign stating TAKE ME and of a woman crouching in front of a man's crotch accompanied by the text come & swallow . We considered that the portrayal of women in ads (a) to
(g) was at some points distasteful, and acknowledged that some people might view the ads as being sexist and reducing women to the status of objects for male gratification.
We considered, however, that the overall tone of each ad was one of a party atmosphere, and that they gave the impression of young people, both male and female, enjoying a night out. We also noted that the nudity was not exclusively female, and
that one ad showed a man with shots lined up along his body. We considered that consumers visiting Tequila UK's website, Facebook, Twitter or Youtube page were likely to be those who had heard about the club night and were interested in finding
out more about the events held with a view to attending, and that the ads were unlikely to be seen by that audience as being sexist or promoting misogyny or the objectification of women. We therefore concluded that ads (a) to (g) were unlikely to
cause serious or widespread offence and were not irresponsible or harmful in their portrayal of women.
We noted Tequila UK's comments that the language within the ads was not explicit, but considered that that was not always the case, such as with the text F*CK ME I'M A FRESHER! in ad (d). We also considered that the use of the slogan come and swallow
, particularly in ads (c) and (e) where it was accompanied by images of a woman with whipped cream and shots placed on her body and a woman crouching in front of a man's crotch respectively, was sexually explicit and would be likely to cause
offence to some. We noted that the ads also featured a variety of other sexual references, partial nudity and, in respect of ads (f) and (h), frequent profanities, including in the soundtracks.
As outlined at point (1) above, we considered that the likely audience for the ads would be people who were interested in finding out more about Tequila UK club nights. We also recognised that they were likely to be predominantly young adults
because the promoted events were for students, and that some of the ads' content, and in particular the soundtracks to ads (f) and (h), reflected youth culture. Notwithstanding that fact, we considered that the content of the ads was likely to
cause serious offence to some consumers because of the sexually explicit imagery and text, nudity and profanity. We therefore concluded that the ads breached the Code.
We considered that the likely audience for the ads was young adults who were interested in finding out about the student club nights run by Tequila UK. Notwithstanding the concerns outlined above that the ads were likely to cause serious offence
to that group, we considered that the content was particularly unsuitable for young audiences and that Tequila UK should have put measures in place to ensure that it was not visible to children, who were defined under the CAP Code as those aged
under 16. We therefore concluded that ads (f) to (h) were in breach of the Code because they could be viewed by those aged under 16.
Ads (f), (g) and (h) contained scenes of people drinking body shots off each other's bodies and free pouring of alcohol (mainly spirits) directly from the bottle into people's mouths. We considered that those scenes depicted the handling,
serving and consumption of alcohol in an uncontrolled and irresponsible manner and were likely to encourage unwise styles of drinking. We were also concerned by other elements of the ads which implied or condoned the excessive consumption of
alcohol. Those included: lyrics used in the soundtrack to ad (f) at the point that people were drinking shots from a woman's body that stated Hear the beat, now let's hit the floor/Drink it up and then drink some more ; a scene in ad (g)
showing a girl staggering to get up from the ground whilst holding a drinks bottle in her mouth; and an interview scene with a clubber who described his approach to the night out as being to get fucked up, then get fucked (ad (h)), as well
as more general interview scenes which appeared to show the interviewer approving of drunken behaviour. We considered that the ads featured alcohol being handled and served irresponsibly and condoned and encouraged the excessive consumption of
alcohol, and therefore concluded that they breached the Code.
Ad (a) showed a variety of images of different groups of people, and no one was depicted with more than one drink in their hand or in any other way that explicitly suggested they had consumed, or would be consuming, excessive amounts of alcohol at
the event. We considered that consumers would understand that the images had been taken over the course of an evening and for the most part did not condone or encourage the irresponsible handling or drinking of alcohol. However, one sequence of
images within ad (a) depicted the use of body shots. As outlined at point (4) above, we considered that that method of serving alcohol was irresponsible and implied a reduced level of control over the rate and amount of consumption.
Body shots also featured in ad (c), paired with text that we considered reinforced the idea of excessive consumption: COME AND SWALLOW and A NOTORIOUS DEN OF HEDONISM AND DEBAUCHERY . Ad (d) included a background image of free
pouring and language that we considered also implied excessive consumption: Lie on the bar, open your mouths and let someone pour you some TEQUILA . Ad (b) contained an image showing a man tipping his head back and pouring liquid from what
appeared to be a spirit bottle into his mouth. Although none of the images in ad (e) showed the consumption of alcohol, the text referred to a massive explosion of debauchery with Tequila as one of its components. We considered that all of
those factors, as well as the company description visible in ads (c), (d) and (e) as a spirit fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery , implied the excessive consumption of alcohol and concluded that ads (a) to (e) therefore breached the
A number of the ads contained sexually suggestive scenes, including images of people embracing, partial nudity, body shots and interview scenes such as that described at point (4) above, the majority of which prominently featured alcohol. We
considered that most of those scenes implied a link between alcohol and seduction, sexual activity or sexual success, and furthermore that the use of the event name Tequila , either alone or with phrases such as a spirit fuelled den of
hedonism and debauchery and, because of the clear double meaning therein, come and swallow and dedicated to oral pleasure in the ads was sufficient to establish that link even in the absence of any images containing alcohol. We
considered that the degree of focus throughout the ads on alcohol and drinking resulted in the implication that alcohol was a key component of the success of Tequila UK club nights. We therefore concluded that ads (a) to (h) breached the Code.
We acknowledged that attendees of the student club nights hosted by Tequila UK were likely to be young adults. However, the CAP Code stipulated that people shown drinking or playing a significant role in ads that featured or referred to alcoholic
drinks must neither be nor seem to be under 25. We considered that all of the ads featured people who seemed to be under the age of 25, and that even when they were not drinking those people were playing a significant role - for example, the image
on the right of the page in ads (d) and (e) of the woman in underwear being touched by another woman. We therefore concluded that the ads breached the Code.
Two TV ads, which also appeared on the advertiser's YouTube channel, for VIP Electronic Cigarettes:
a. The first TV ad showed a woman speaking directly to the camera, she stated, I want you to get it out I want to see it Feel it hold it Put it in my mouth I want to see how great it tastes. On-screen text stated www.vipecig.co.uk Contains Nicotine
. A symbol also appeared that indicated the product was not suitable for those aged under 18 years. Further on-screen text stated THE GREAT TASTE OF VIP and VIP E-cigarettes & E-liquids . An accompanying female voice-over
stated, If you're gonna Vape, Vape with VIP.
c. The second TV ad showed a man speaking directly to the camera, he stated, Do you want to see it? I can get it out if you'd like. You can feel it hold it Put it in your mouth And see how great it tastes. On-screen
text stated www.vipecig.co.uk Contains Nicotine . A symbol also appeared that indicated the product was not suitable for those aged under 18. Further on-screen text stated THE GREAT TASTE OF VIP and VIP E-cigarettes &
E-liquids . An accompanying female voice-over stated If you're gonna Vape, Vape with VIP .
The ads were cleared by Clearcast with a post-21:00 restriction.
The ASA received 1,156 complaints.
A number of complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive, because:
they were overly sexual in nature;
they understood the term vape , used in a sexual context, to be wordplay on the term rape ; and
they were sexist, degrading and exploited women.
A number of complainants challenged whether the ads: were irresponsible, because they sexualised and glamorised e-cigarettes and smoking; and
irresponsibly promoted a smoking-related product, for which the health effects were yet to be established, to young viewers.
A number of complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (c) were appropriately scheduled, because they could be viewed by children.
One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was irresponsible, because it failed to carry an appropriate health warning associated with nicotine products.
1. & 6. Upheld
The ASA acknowledged the complainants' concerns that the presentation of the ads included implied references to oral sex. We noted the ads contained no explicit sexual imagery and concluded by revealing that the commentary related to an
However, we considered the sexually provocative presentation of the male and female characters in conjunction with a graphic description of oral sex was likely to cause serious and widespread offence to viewers who viewed ads (a) and (c) during
normal evening viewing. We acknowledged the post-21:00 timing restriction would reduce the risk of younger children seeing ads (a) and (c), but because of the references to oral sex, we considered a post-21:00 timing restriction was not sufficient
to avoid offending viewers and that a post-23:00 timing restriction should have been applied. On that basis, we concluded that ads (a) and (c) breached the Code.
To view ads (b) and (d), consumers needed to locate the ads on the advertiser's YouTube channel. In that context, we considered ads (b) and (d) were not likely to cause serious and widespread offence to those viewers. We therefore concluded that
ads (b) and (d) did not breach the Code on point 1.
2. Not upheld
We considered the presentation of the ads made clear that the term vape related to the use of e-cigarettes and did not equate to wordplay on the word rape. We therefore considered the use of the term vape was unlikely to cause
serious or widespread offence.
3. Not upheld
We considered the woman, in ads (a) and (b), was not depicted as a sexual object, nor did it suggest that the woman was in distress. We considered the comments of the man, in ads (c) and (d), were suggestive in tone, but were not demeaning or
sexist. We also considered ads (c) and (d) did not make clear to whom the character's comments were addressed. In that context, we considered the ads were not likely to be viewed as sexist, degrading or exploiting women. We therefore concluded
that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on this point.
4. Not upheld
We noted that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes could be sold legally in the UK, were not a prohibited category under the CAP and BCAP Codes, and were therefore permitted to be advertised, within the confines of the Advertising Codes. We therefore
considered the advertising of those products would not automatically be found to be harmful providing they were advertised in a responsible manner.
Whilst the ads were sexual in tone, we considered the ads did not glamorise the nicotine product nor did they encourage excessive or inappropriate use. Also, the ads did not include any reference to smoking. We therefore considered the content of
the ads did not encourage smoking or the harmful use of a nicotine product. We therefore concluded that the ads were not socially irresponsible.
5. Not upheld
As noted previously, e-cigarettes could be advertised in compliance with the Advertising Codes provided they were advertised in a responsible manner.
Notwithstanding our concerns about the sufficiency of the timing restriction that had been applied to ads (a) and (c), we considered the original post-21:00 timing restriction would reduce the risk of younger children seeing those ads. We noted
that, in order to view ads (b) and (d), consumers would need to search for them on YouTube. We therefore considered ads (b) and (d) were unlikely to be viewed children. In addition, we considered the presentation of the ads did not include content
of particular appeal to children.
Because the ads did not include content of particular appeal to children and because the original placement of the ads reduced the risk of children seeing the ads, we concluded that the ads did not irresponsibly promote the advertised product to
young viewers and therefore did not breach the Code on this point.
7. Not upheld
We understood there was no requirement for the advertised product to carry a health warning. Notwithstanding that, we considered it important that ads for e-cigarettes stated whether or not the advertised product contained nicotine. We judged that
to be material information the consumer needed to know in order to avoid the likelihood of being misled. Because the ad made clear that the advertised product contained nicotine, we concluded the ad was not misleading on this point.
Ads (a) and (c) must not be broadcast again before 23:00. We told VIP Electronic Cigarettes to ensure ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence in future and to ensure that they were appropriately scheduled.
A TV ad for a mobile app, Nude Scanner 3D , shown during six episodes of
Hollyoaks. The ad showed a clothed woman holding an umbrella. A hand appeared which held a mobile phone. The phone then scanned the woman which revealed her naked with her breasts and crotch blurred out. The naked image then rotated,
showing the woman from the waist up. The voice-over stated, The 3D nude scanner is available for your mobile. Prank your friends to think you can see what any of them look like without clothes on. Just send scan to xx xxx to get the fun app
now. Or also go to xxxxxxx.co.uk and join Jamster action for £4.50 per week. On-screen text stated For entertainment purposes only ... 16+, Bill payer's permission .
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction.
Twenty-six viewers complained about the ad:
Twenty-one viewers challenged whether the ad was appropriately scheduled because it was shown at times when it could be seen by children, including young teenagers.
Seven viewers, some of whom stated that the ad was demeaning to women, challenged whether the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
Seven viewers challenged whether the ad could encourage anti-social behaviour.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA welcomed Jamster's assurance that the ad had been removed from broadcast. We noted the ad featured a naked woman, with her breasts and crotch pixilated, who rotated in order to show her front and back. We acknowledged that the models
featured on the app would not be shown fully naked, that the voice-over contained one reference to pranking and that on-screen text stated for entertainment purposes only . However, we considered that viewers may have assumed that
the image would be fully nude because the ad had not made that clear. We also noted the visual of the woman was held on-screen for the majority of the ad and that she appeared in a playful and provocative pose. Because the ad focused on the
product's apparent ability to enable the user to view naked images of women using the camera on their phone, and had a prolonged focus on the female model, we considered it was unsuitable for a child audience and was likely to be viewed as
demeaning to women and, therefore, offensive.
We acknowledged the ex-kids restriction that was applied to the ad which meant that it should not be shown during programmes that were likely to be of particular appeal to children. We obtained the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB)
figures and noted that the proportion of children who had watched Hollyoaks during the times when the ad was viewed by the complainants was, on two occasions, above the threshold at which a TV programme was said to have particular appeal to
audiences who were under 16 years of age. Furthermore, on those broadcasts and on one other broadcast, the threshold of children between the ages of 10 and 15 who had viewed Hollyoaks was also above that threshold. We considered that whilst
younger children may not understand the references to a nude scanner , that was unlikely to be the case for older children and we considered them to be the group most likely to have been interested in downloading the app.
Because the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded it should not have been broadcast at any time, including during programmes of particular appeal to children.
On these points, the ad breached BCAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) 32.1 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) and 32.3 (Under-16s).
3. Not upheld
We noted the ad had not contained language or on-screen text that encouraged the app to be downloaded to make fun or humiliate others. Whilst we considered the ad to be demeaning to women and unsuitable for children, and acknowledged that some
viewers might find the product distasteful, we concluded that the ad itself was unlikely to condone or encourage bullying or anti-social behaviour.
On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising) 4.9 (Harm and offence) and 5.4 (Children) but did not find it in breach. Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Jesta Digital GmbH to ensure their future advertising was not demeaning to women and contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
A regional press ad for Beavers strip club in Watford featured an image of a woman from her shoulders to her knees from behind. She was wearing lacy underwear and knee-high boots. Text over the image stated Excuses ... Sorry baby, the car
broke down . Text next to the image stated BEAVERS STRIP CLUB & BAR, UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT, NEW DANCE PRICES 9pm - 12pm 15 & 20, FREE ENTRY BEFORE 10PM .
Two complainants challenged whether the ad:
was likely to cause widespread or serious offence; and
was irresponsible because it would be widely seen throughout the local community.
Beavers Strip Club & Bar (Beavers) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was disappointed by Beavers lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded Beavers of their obligation to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them
to do so in future.
ASA Decision: Complaints upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the ad was for a strip club and bar and, as such, the image was relevant to the service being advertised. We considered that the image of the woman from behind, showing her from the shoulders to the knees, wearing only
underwear and knee-high boots was sexually suggestive. We considered the text Sorry baby, the car broke down implied that it was customary for users of the service to do so without the approval of their partners, which, given the
sexualised nature of the activity, and coupled with the sexually suggestive image, we considered was demeaning to women. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and Offence).
We noted that the ad was half a page in size and included a sexually suggestive image of a woman, which comprised over a third of the ad. We considered the ad was likely to be widely seen throughout the local community and, because we
considered the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising). Action
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Beavers not to use images and text that were likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the medium in which they appear.
Update: You could knock me down with a feather!
22nd February 2013. Thanks to Alan
You really couldn't make this up, could you?
We considered that the image of the woman from behind, showing her from the shoulders to the knees, wearing only underwear and knee-high boots was sexually suggestive.
You could knock me down with a feather! It's a fucking advert for a strip club, for heaven's sake. Of course it's sexually bloody suggestive. Can we now expect the ASA to censor adverts for solemn masses, with shocking revelations about the
religious allegiance of the Roman Pontiff, because they could cause serious and widespread offence to extreme protestants?
The website www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk featured a hip flask. The website stated F**k My Liver Hip Flask ...
Drink like the rebel you are with this F**K My Liver printed hip flask . Text on the hip flask stated FUCK MY LIVER . Issue
A complainant challenged whether the website was irresponsible because it could encourage excessive drinking.
Urban Outfitters said it was their intention to produce a funny and light-hearted ad to attract the attention of consumers that reflected their street style attitude. They said they did not encourage drinking and that they did not sell
alcoholic beverages. Urban Outfitters said the phrases fuck my liver and drink like the rebel you are were meant to represent an attitude of disregard for others' beliefs and the phrases were meant to be taken as light-hearted
statements that portrayed a rebellious attitude that disregarded healthy living and as such, were not meant to be taken seriously.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld: Upheld
The ASA considered the advertiser's assertion that the two phrases represented an attitude of disregard and that Fuck my liver did not necessarily relate to alcohol consumption. However, we considered that the strong link with the
product's purpose and the reference to liver would be interpreted as a direct reference to alcohol consumption. We considered that the phrase Fuck my liver was a message to actively disregard well-known advice about the negative
effects of alcohol on the liver.
We also considered that the word rebels was, due to popular culture, likely to be seen as a reference to those who rejected normal conventions and were likely to take activities to an extreme. We therefore considered that in the context
of a product for consuming alcohol, the phrase Drink like the rebel you are was likely to be seen as a direct encouragement to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, portraying drinking alcohol as a challenge.
Because Urban Outfitters advertised a product directly linked with the consumption of alcohol in a way that was likely to encourage excessive drinking, we concluded it was irresponsible and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising), 18.1 and 18.4 (Alcohol). Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told URBN UK Ltd t/a Urban Outfitters not to use words or phrases which were irresponsible, encouraged excessive drinking or portrayed drinking alcohol as a challenge.
a. A video ad entitled Different Takes Guts #giffgaffguts, which appeared on YouTube and Facebook, was set in a swimming pool complex. Various people all dressed in white, including wedding dresses and bikinis, and others, dressed as
mummies in bandages, were seen running down corridors. The people jumped into an empty swimming pool, as large plastic containers full of what appeared to be blood, guts and other organs were lowered in, and the participants started throwing
the contents around and smearing blood on their faces and bodies. At various points the blood and guts were thrown across and onto the camera. A close-up of a drink showed an eyeball and a character opened her mouth to reveal another
eyeball. One man was shown holding his nose and diving under the surface of a hot tub full of blood and guts, helped by others who pushed his shoulders and back down. The ad ended by showing the floor of the pool and the characters covered
in blood. On-screen text read Different takes GUTS .
b. A short video ad on YouTube, entitled Do you have the guts? featured people, some of whom were covered in blood, having mug shots taken and holding an identification panel which stated DIFFERENT TAKES GUTS , a date and #giffgaffguts
Fifteen complainants challenged whether ad (a) was likely to cause offence and distress; and
Two complainants also challenged whether ad (a) was inappropriately placed because it was likely to be seen by children and would cause them distress and harm.
One complainant also challenged whether ad (b) was likely to cause offence.
CAP Code (Edition 12) 4.1 4.2 5.1 Response
Giffgaff said that the ads had appeared around Halloween and had been created to celebrate Halloween. They stated that the aim of the ads had been to be playful and humorous rather than frightening and to highlight that being different took
guts . They did not consider that ad (a) contained material that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to children and they did not believe it was likely that the ad had caused serious or widespread offence against generally
accepted moral, social or cultural standards.
Google stated the ads had been reviewed by YouTube LLC and did not violate their community guidelines or advertising policies.
Facebook stated the ads did not violate their ad guidelines and they had not taken any further action.
The ASA acknowledged that ad (a) appeared around Halloween, where horror or gory imagery was often more prevalent. We understood, however, that some complainants had seen the ad before videos, which were not related to Halloween or to horror
films, such as music videos, and we also noted that there was no warning regarding the nature of the ad's content. We considered that the scenes of blood, guts and other organs being thrown around were extensive, graphic and excessively gory
and considered that the depiction of eyeballs in blood and in a character's mouth were particularly graphic. We therefore considered the ad's scenes were likely to cause revulsion and distress to viewers. Although we considered that viewers
would note that the characters were not frightened and would infer that the blood and organs used were likely to be fake, we considered that the images were sufficiently realistic and graphic to cause offence and distress to many viewers and
concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.
On that point, ad (a) breached CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence).
We noted that the ad campaign was aimed at viewers who were 18 years old and older, but understood that ad (a) was not age-gated and could therefore be accessed by children. We considered that the graphic horror scenes would be likely
to cause offence and distress to children, as well as adults, as set out under point 1, and therefore concluded that ad (a) was in breach of the Code.
On that point, ad (a) breached CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 5.1 (Children).
3. Not upheld
We noted the characters featured in ad (b) had blood on their face or body and, in some cases, were covered in blood. Although we considered that some viewers would find that distasteful, we did not consider that the ad was likely to cause
offence or distress.
We investigated ad (b) under CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
Two internet display ads promoted an introduction service:
a. The ad featured a woman in a black bra and knickers, with one hand to her breast.
b. The ad featured a woman in a pink bra and knickers, posing with her thumbs inside the waistline of her knickers, near her crotch.
Both ads stated Kovla.com Find a date in your area! Join for free . Issue
The complainant challenged whether:
the ads were offensive because they objectified women;
the ads were unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium; and
ad (a) was irresponsible, because the woman appeared to be underweight.
The ASA welcomed the fact that the ads were no longer appearing and that Kovla would take greater care to ensure their marketing was compliant with the Code in future. However, we noted that both ads featured women in their underwear, looking
directly at the camera with their mouths slightly open, and posed with their hands on their bodies in what we considered to be provocative and sexualised positions. Whilst the ads did not include explicit nudity we considered that they
presented the women as sexually available and portrayed them as sexual objects. We therefore considered that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and concluded that they were in breach of the Code.
On that point, the ads breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
We understood that the ads had been seen on a general website that could be accessed by all consumers and was not restricted in any way. We considered that the ads were sexually suggestive and presented the women as sexual objects and
therefore concluded that they were unsuitable for an untargeted medium where they could be seen by children.
On that point, the ads breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
3. Not upheld
We noted the woman featured in the ad was slim, and that the outline of some of her ribs could be seen in the image. We also noted that her pose accentuated her curves and waist. We considered, however, that whilst the model looked slim she
did not appear to be underweight, and concluded that the image was not irresponsible.
On that point, we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising), but did not find it in breach. Action
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Kovla Ltd to ensure future ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and to take particular care when placing ads in an untargeted medium
where they could be seen by children.
A TV and video-on-demand (VOD) ad for a tablet PC:
a. The TV ad showed two young boys looking towards the camera, watching something off screen. The older of the boys said, Watch, watch. The boys continued watching, before bursting into laughter. The older boy said, Do you want to
see it again? Watch, watch. The shot then changed to show a tablet device, which played a video clip of a cat attempting to jump from one roof to another, and missing, with a screech. On-screen text stated Let's watch ... Let's laugh
... Let's share ... Let's hudl ... .
b. The VOD ad was the same as the TV ad and appeared during Sex Box on 4OD. Issue
The ASA received 43 complaints.
A number of complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
A number of complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful, because they felt it was likely to encourage cruelty to animals.
3One complainant challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for broadcast before 9 pm.
Tesco Stores Ltd told us they did not believe the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because the action took place in a natural, relaxed and informal setting, with much laughter, which they did not feel fitted with the
notions of widespread offence or cruelty. They said the ad was intended to be amusing and to characterise the fun aspect of the product along with emphasising the opportunity for sharing, learning and having fun with family and friends.
Tesco Stores did not accept that the ad was likely to encourage cruelty to animals, which they did not condone. They pointed out the cat had jumped off the roof by its own volition and had not been forced or encouraged to jump, and that the
children's laughter was simply their natural reaction to the cat's mishap. They said the footage was licensed from a company that specialised in cat funnies and that contact had been made with the owner of the cat to ensure that it had
not suffered any injury.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
Whilst the ASA acknowledged that some viewers were likely to find the ad distasteful, we accepted that the ad simply showed the children's natural reaction to viewing a video clip which featured a cat misjudging a jump. We noted that the
footage did not show the cat being encouraged or forced to jump and we therefore considered there was nothing in the ad that could be emulated or that was likely to encourage cruelty to animals. We concluded that the ad did not breach the Code
and that it did not require any scheduling restriction.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 and 4.4 (Harm and offence) and BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.2 and 4.4 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
Two TV ads promoted Baileys and featured an arrangement of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker ballet throughout:
a. The ad opened with three women arriving at a party and each receiving a glass of Baileys. One of the women made eye contact with a man across the room who then approached and commenced dancing with her in a ballet style. Another male character,
who had watched the couple from a balcony, jumped down to the floor and, flanked by his friends, joined the dance. At that point, the music increased in pace and the dance became more confrontational in style as the group of men tried to separate
the couple and grab the female lead away. The male leads were shown dancing together, spinning and kicking as they leapt towards and away from one another. At one point the female character stepped between the men before being grabbed by one of
the group of men and later struggling free. The dance ended as the woman performed a pirouette with her leg extended, which appeared to strike the second man across the face. She then rejoined her friends, at which point text stating Spend time
with the girls this Christmas appeared.
b. The ad was a shortened version of ad (a) and showed the same key scenes, including the confrontation between the male characters and the shot of the woman appearing to kick one of the men across the face. The ad also ended with the female lead
rejoining her friends and the text Spend time with the girls this Christmas . Issue
The ASA received nine complaints.
One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was in breach of the Code, because it featured violent and aggressive behaviour in the context of an ad promoting alcohol.
Eight complainants challenged whether ad (b) was in breach of the Code for the same reason.
Diageo Great Britain Ltd explained that the idea behind the ads was to show the ultimate girls' night out in a modern, fantastical way and they had chosen to do so through a retelling of the classic story, and Christmas ballet, the Nutcracker.
Diageo did not believe that the ads linked alcohol with violent or aggressive behaviour in any way. They highlighted that the ads were set in a fairy-tale land and showed an interpretation of an instantly recognisable famous scene from the
Nutcracker ballet (the dance of the Mouse King) and as such were deliberately and obviously fictional. They said every creative aspect of the ads, from the costumes, set design, music and choice of ballet as a dance medium, were designed to be
fantastical and far removed from real life.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA understood that the ads were intended as a retelling of a scene from the famous Christmas ballet, the Nutcracker, in which Clara saved the Nutcracker from the Mouse King and his army of toy soldiers. We noted that throughout both ads a
rendition of the score from the ballet was played and included music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. We considered that most consumers would be familiar with the basic story of the ballet and therefore understand that the ads reflected
We understood that the complainants objected to the fact that the ads linked alcohol and what they believed to be aggressive and anti-social behaviour. We noted that when the male character jumped down from the balcony and tried to separate the
dancing couple, the music increased in pace and featured more staccato notes, and the characters' interactions and movements became more accented as they moved spinning, leaping and kicking towards and away from one another. We also noted the
grabbing gestures, the fact the female lead was shown struggling and trying to escape from the Mouse King's friends, and the end of the scene when her extended leg appeared to strike the man across the face.
We considered, however, that from the outset the ads were clearly fantastical and highly stylised. We noted the costumes, the opulent setting and the fact the narrative was communicated almost entirely through the medium of dance. We also
considered that whilst the characters' movements changed, becoming less fluid and more dramatic as the music sped up and the second male character entered the dance floor, the movement was still obviously identifiable as choreographed dance.
Similarly, we considered that the reaction of the other guests around the dance floor when the female lead appeared to strike the male, and the manner in which she returned to her friends, suggested that the male character had not been injured,
and emphasised the stylised and light-hearted nature of the ads.
We considered that viewers would understand that the ads were a fictional and stylised retelling of a popular Christmas ballet, and would understand the dancing featured, including the choreographed confrontational movements between the main
characters and the final pirouette, to be a visual expression of the story, as opposed to a realistic depiction of violent or aggressive behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ads were not in breach of the Code.
We investigated the ads under BCAP Code rule 19.5 (Alcohol), but did not find them in breach.
A TV ad for the Nissan Note featured a soundtrack that seemingly had the lyrics What's the colour of the next car. It's red you bastard, yeah red you bastard. Don't believe in God, but believe in this shit ... . The ad
featured scenes of a couple driving through a tunnel and being approached by ghosts, supernatural creatures with fluorescent swords on hover boards and on motorcycles, and being stopped by a giant jack-in-a-box.
Two viewers complained about the ad challenging whether:
the swearing in the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to hear;
the reference to Don't believe in God, but believe in this was offensive to viewers who did believe in God.
The second complainant, who believed young children would be frightened by the ad, challenged whether it was suitable for children to see.
Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd said they had commissioned a clean version of the song Evil Eye by Franz Ferdinand for use as a backing track, which did not feature any swearing. They said the words in question on the
version of the song in the ad were basket and schtick . They added that the lyrics of the song were barely discernible in the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA was satisfied that the radio edit of Evil Eye was used in the ad and this version of the song did not contain any swear words. We considered whether the words basket and schtick , which replaced the swear words in the
original version of the song, sounded enough like swearing to be likely to cause offence.
We noted that while the song played in the background during the ad, a number of other noises could be heard throughout, for example the noise made by the jack-in-the-box springing up, the laughter of the ghostly characters and the beep from the safety shield system of the car. Nonetheless, we considered that the words
basket and schtick could clearly be made out and while viewers who were familiar with the original version of the song might mistake those lyrics for the swear words contained in the original version, it was unlikely that the viewers
and particularly children would believe they had heard swear words and be offended.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 5.1 (Children), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We again noted that the lyrics of the song might be difficult to hear amongst the other noises in the ad, but we considered whether the lyric Don't believe in God could cause offence to those who did hear them.
We appreciated that the lyric expressed a view that would be at odds with the beliefs of some people, but we acknowledged that there was nothing else in the ad's content to suggest criticism of religion or belief in God, and the lyric was given no
prominence. We concluded that, given the context of the ad, the lyric was unlikely 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.
3. Not upheld
We noted that the ad depicted a couple driving through a tunnel that resembled a ghost train, with supernatural characters jumping out and following them. We acknowledged that the noises featured in the ad, including the supernatural characters'
laughter, and the backing song gave the ad a spooky atmosphere. However, we also noted that the couple did not seem to be at all threatened or scared of the characters, and were safely locked inside the car. The couple was depicted smiling and
seemingly enjoying themselves throughout the ride in the tunnel, even when directly confronted by the characters, for example when the jack-in-the-box sprang up in front of them.
We noted that Clearcast had instructed children's channels to view the ad to assess its suitability for their channel before screening it, and we concluded that that was sufficient.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
A TV ad for the 18 classified film Filth featured a number of brief clips from the film including scenes featuring alcohol consumption, partial nudity, sexually suggestive behaviour, vomiting and drug use. It featured a voice-over in a
Scottish accent, which stated, You've got to watch Filth. The Mail on Sunday Showbiz says it's the most exciting and attention grabbing film of the year. FHM reckons McAvoy gives the performance of the year and they gave it five stars. Some
bloke at GQ reckons it's magnificent, hilarious and utterly compelling and Gordon Smart at The Sun calls it the greatest thing to come out of Scotland since the deep fried Mars Bar. From the creator of Trainspotting, Filth.
The ad was cleared by the broadcaster's advertising advice service, Clearcast, with a post 7.30 pm restriction.
A complainant challenged whether the ad was suitable for broadcast before 9 pm.
Clearcast felt that the post 7.30 pm restriction was an appropriate restriction for this ad. They said the scenes of a sexual nature were extremely brief and non-graphic. They noted that there were two scenes where liquid was seen coming out of
someone's mouth. They said the first was an unidentifiable liquid and the second may have been vomit, but they said both shots were extremely brief and unlikely to be inappropriate viewing after 7.30pm. With regard to the behaviour depicted, they
accepted that it may be considered distasteful, but deemed it acceptable to be shown after 7.30 pm as it was unlikely to be inappropriate for a post 7.30 pm audience.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the ad had been given a post 7.30 pm restriction, and it was therefore not shown around programmes commissioned for, principally directed at, or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16 years.
However, we noted that the ad contained clips likely to be seen as portraying drug use, alcohol consumption followed by vomiting, partial nudity and sexually suggestive behaviour.
We noted that one scene portrayed a young woman in lingerie approaching a line of naked men, shown from the neck down, who were holding police helmets over their genitalia. We noted that another scene depicted three people in a room together. One
person was fully clothed, facing the camera and looking directly at another person, who was seemingly naked from the waist down with the third person's arm on their leg. We considered that the scenes were overtly sexual and suggestive, but noted
that the scenes were brief and there was no explicit sexual content. We also observed that what seemed to be alcohol consumption featured in several brief clips in the ad, and on one occasion, a character drinking from a bottle was shown to vomit
immediately afterwards. We noted that at the end of the ad a character was shown blowing a white powder, which also covered his face, from his hand. We considered that this was likely to be seen as a reference to drugs, but again noted the
briefness of the scene.
We acknowledged Clearcast's point that the disputed scenes were extremely short, and we considered that if shown in isolation, the individual brief clips would likely have been considered acceptable post 7.30 pm. We did not consider that the
scenes would cause harm or distress to children, that is we did not think the scenes would encourage or condone the behaviour shown or frighten children, but we were concerned about their suitability for children. We concluded that, when viewed
together as a series of clips, the overall cumulative effect of those scenes portrayed a very negative, anti-social culture, which we considered would be more appropriate to be shown post 9 pm to further reduce the likelihood of children viewing
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form before 9 pm.