ASA Watch

 2017: Oct-Dec

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  Sexist, degrading, and objectifying...

ASA recommends banned Godwin Smith shoe advert

Link Here 17th November 2017

godwin smith fancy a pair campaignAds for Goodwin Smith Shoes seen in August 2017:

  • a. An email included the claim Fancy a pair? and was accompanied by an image of three women wearing just knickers, with one woman's breasts exposed, the second covering her chest with her arm with her nipple exposed and the third posed in front of the others holding a pair of shoes over her chest. Above the image was the company tag line Bucking good shoes.

  • b. The company's own website, included the claim Fancy a pair? and was accompanied by an image of two women who were topless, wearing only knickers and covering their breasts with shoes.

  • c. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now accompanied by an image of three woman wearing just knickers, two women covered their breasts with shoes and the third covered her breasts with her arm.

  • d. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text Watch the full [no under 18] version on Youtube now and featured the not suitable for under 18s emoji. Underneath was a still image of a video that featured a woman wearing black underwear on her knees in front of a fully clothed man who was holding a plastic machine which released paper money notes in quick succession at her face.

  • e. An email titled WE DID WARN YOU, which included the not suitable for under 18s emoji, showed an image of three women and three men. One of the women was topless and wore a saxophone around her neck. A second woman wore just a pair of knickers, high heels and a foam finger. She was pressed against a man and was slightly bent over showing her bare buttocks. The three men were fully clothed. Above the image was the company tag line Bucking good shoes.

  • f. A Youtube video appearing on Goodwin Smith's channel, titled FANCY A PAIR? (EXPLICIT VERSION) AW17. Before the video played, text appeared which stated Sign in to confirm your age. This video may be inappropriate for some users. The video contained three women and three men. For the duration of the video, the men remained fully clothed. In some scenes, the three women wore black lingerie and in others they were topless, wearing nude thongs and high heels. Throughout the ad the women were dancing and interacting with the men. One shot featured a topless woman with the phrase FANCY A PAIR? written on the screen. Other scenes included: a woman on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot paper money notes into the woman's face; a topless woman serving a man a drink; and men shaking up a bottle of liquid, then spraying it across the room.

Nine complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive because they were sexist, objectifying women, and degrading to women.

Redfoot Shoes Ltd t/a Goodwin Smith said that the campaign had attempted to portray a fantasy concept in which the men were portrayed as being confident; this was not meant to degrade women. They also said that their typical consumer was men aged between 22 and 45 years, with an interest in sport and other luxury brands associated with clothing and lifestyle. The ads had been formulated specifically for potential consumers within their target demographic, therefore they felt the platforms used to promote the campaign would only been seen by consumers who had actively chosen to receive or view the content. They provided evidence of the impact of their social media posts and stated that some of their most popular posts featured photographs of women in provocative poses. Based on this history, they believed they provided a marketing campaign that would be well received by their customers. They also informed us that there were two versions of the video and the version featuring the women topless came with a warning of the explicit content.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA considered that a number of scenes in ad (f), such as the opening shot of a topless blonde woman with the phrase FANCY A PAIR? shown on screen and the shot with a woman in her underwear on all fours with the product on her back, were sexually suggestive and that for most of the video the women danced in a seductive manner.

We considered that in the ads the men were portrayed in a manner viewers were likely to interpret to mean that they were successful, suave and aspirational. For example, during ad (f) they were smartly dressed and well groomed, were consistently seen to be confidently interacting with the women, and had their names appearing on-screen with aspirational character descriptions, such as the ladies man[sic], the baller and the rebel. In contrast, we considered the women to have been portrayed in a subservient position -- for example, throughout the video the men remained fully clothed, whereas the women wore either only a nude coloured thong or a lingerie set. Scenes included one shot in which a woman was seen serving a man alcohol whilst just wearing a thong and in another in which a woman was on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot banknotes into her face. We considered the general content of ad (f), and those scenes in ad (f) in particular, to be both sexually suggestive and degrading to women, and therefore likely to cause serious offence.

Goodwin Smith acknowledged that the ad was explicit and stated they had highlighted this feature of the campaign in ads (c)--(e) using phrases such as We did warn you accompanied by the not suitable for under 18s emoji and Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now. We considered ads (a)--(e) were similar in style to ad (f) -- for example, the ads included images such as two women in their underwear covering their breasts with the shoes. We considered that topless and lingerie-clad women were irrelevant to the shoes being advertised and that the general tone of the ads was also both sexually suggestive and degrading to women. We did not think that the warnings provided were sufficient to counter the likely offence caused by the scenes in the ad.

Because the ads were sexist, degrading to women, and objectifying women, we considered that they were likely to cause serious and widespread offence, including to Goodwin Smith's potential customer base. We concluded they were therefore in breach of the Code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Goodwin Smith to ensure that in the future their ads were socially responsible and that they did not objectify women.


  Distressing censorship...

ASA bans Royal Mail bank raid video advert from post watershed video on demand

Link Here 15th November 2017

royal mail heist video A paid-for video ad on Twitter and a Video On Demand (VOD) ad for Royal Mail:

a. The video ad on Twitter, seen on 27 July 2017, featured a scene with customers and staff in a bank. A short while later a gang of men in balaclavas with baseball bats entered the bank and shouted, This is a robbery. The staff and customers in the bank were made to get on their knees with their hands held up and were threatened with the baseball bats. One female member of staff was grabbed repeatedly by the shoulder and the wrist and asked her full name and date of birth by one of the assailants. Other customers were asked similar questions about their personal identity, passwords and log-in details, while a member of the gang appeared to type the information on a hand-held electronic tablet. One customer offered a gang member money to which he said, We don't want your money. Throughout the scene the members of the public, which included a child, were shouted at aggressively by the assailants, appeared scared and some were crying. One gang member asked another, Got it? they replied, Got it all, after which the gang left the bank. On-screen text stated Your identity is now your most valuable possession. Text at the end of the ad stated, LET'S BEAT IDENTITY FRAUD followed by text that stated Visit our ID Fraud Centre for help and advice, accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and the text, The future in safe hands.

b. The VOD ad, seen on ITV Player on 9 August 2017 at approximately 9.00 pm during an episode of Coronation Street, was the same as ad (a).

Seven complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence, and whether ad (b) was inappropriately placed at a time when children could have been viewing.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that Royal Mail had sought and followed advice regarding the ad's placement from Clearcast and CAP's Copy Advice team, and acknowledged that the ad had not been shown on VOD before 9 pm. We concluded therefore, that it was unlikely that children had seen ad (b).

We acknowledged that identity fraud was a growing problem and it was important that steps were taken to inform the general public about how serious it was and how they could protect themselves. While we understood that the scenario of a bank robbery was chosen to emphasise the seriousness of the crime, we noted that this was not among the common scenarios in which identity fraud was perpetrated. As a result, we considered that consumers would not be able to clearly see from the ad how they could protect themselves, for example by avoiding certain actions that could make them potentially vulnerable to identity fraud. We noted the ads' reference to the Royal Mail's ID fraud centre, but it did not appear until the very end of the ad, during which time the scenario was presented without explanation or context.

Furthermore, because the setting of the ad was recognisable and showed ordinary people, including a child, being shouted at aggressively by criminals, lying on the floor and trying to hide behind furniture, and looking visibly frightened, the impact was heightened and there was an added sense of threat. Because of this, we considered it to be reminiscent of other crimes or situations that people may have experienced that extends beyond the bank robbery depicted and therefore could trigger negative emotions for those who had been victims of violence. We did not consider that the use of baseball bats made the ad less violent than if knives and guns had been used, as the bats were often shown held in a threatening manner by the criminals or positioned next to customers heads.

We understood Royal Mail and ITV's view that the ad served to highlight a serious and growing crime and to assist customers to find information to protect themselves. We noted from the results of the test sample of viewers that the ad may have increased ID fraud awareness for those who had seen it. We also noted that Royal Mail had amended the Twitter ad so that a warning appeared accompanying the video and that they did not intend to use the ad again. However, we considered that the overall presentation of the ads, as seen by the complainants, was excessively threatening and distressing to the extent that it overshadowed the message the ad intended to convey. We concluded the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to viewers, in particular to victims of violence, without a justifiable reason.

We told Royal Mail to ensure that in future their ads did not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.


  The thin line between censorship and repression...

Adverts censors ban travel advert over thin model

Link Here 8th November 2017

conde nastA magazine ad for Condé Nast Traveller Magazine seen in Glamour Magazine on 22 June 2017 featured a model posed on a beach.

A complainant believed the model looked unhealthily thin and challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA considered that while the model appeared to be in proportion, the angle of the image drew attention to her slimness, particularly her legs which looked very long and thin. We also noted that she was part way through twisting and that the outline of her body could be seen through her top, emphasising the narrowness of her waist. We acknowledged that the ad was for a travel magazine and that its focus was not supposed to be on the model or her clothes; however, we considered that the model was the focal point of the image, therefore we concluded that the ad made the model look unhealthily thin and that the ad was irresponsible.

The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Condé Nast Publications Ltd to ensure that in the future their ads were prepared responsibly.


  Blood suckers...

ASA takes a bite out of's fake tattoo business

Link Here 1st November 2017

fake bite tattooA pop-up banner ad promoting the website, which appeared in the in-game app, Simon's Cat Crunch Time and was seen on 24 July 2017. The ad featured an image of a fake tattoo which looked like a bite mark on a woman's chest.

The complainant challenged whether the ad had been targeted responsibly, because they believed it could cause harm to children who saw it. did not respond to our enquiries.

The publisher of the app Strawdog Studios, said they had not intended to display the ad to their users and explained that it had been served through a third-party Application Programming Interface (API). Their set up with the API was intended to filter out ads like the one complained about. They explained that because of the large volume of ads they served, it occasionally happened that an ad was not caught by their filter and in that situation they would remove the specific provider manually. They also did this when people complained to them directly, although they had not received any direct customer complaints about the ad. They said they were not going to serve any further ads from

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA was concerned by's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

The ASA understood that Simon's Cat Crunch Time was an in-game app that featured a cartoon cat. The aim of the game was for the player to help the cat find his treats. We considered the app was likely to have strong appeal to children and therefore children were likely to have seen the ad. We noted that it was not clear from the ad that the product shown was a fake tattoo and we considered that the image, of a bite mark on a woman's chest which was red and bloody, might cause distress to children who saw it. Because of that, we considered the ad had not been targeted responsibly and therefore breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in an untargeted medium. We told to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted.


  Guilty until proved innocent...

Quiz clothing advert cleared of underage sexualisation but not before the company had been terrorised into taking down the adverts

Link Here 4th October 2017

quiz clothingA poster for Quiz Clothing, a clothing retailer, seen in June 2017. The ad depicted a young woman wearing ripped jeans and a bardot-style top, who was sitting in the window of an ice cream van and licking an ice cream.

Two complainants, who both believed the ad appeared to sexualise a child, objected that the ad was irresponsible.

Tarak International Ltd t/a Quiz Clothing said they were sorry that the image had caused discomfort, and that no offence was ever intended, nor was the advert meant to be perceived as sexually explicit. They said their Lost in Summer campaign centred around the fun, everyday activities enjoyed by their consumers during the summer months, and that the ad was relevant to that concept. They said the model in the image was 25 years old at the time of shooting and the thought of sexualisation was never in consideration, nor was it ever intentionally implied.

To avoid any further issues, they had taken steps to remove the image from their digital channels, and the one remaining ad on an outdoor poster site was being taken down. They said they had no plans to use the image again in the future.

Exterion Media said they had reviewed the ad based on their guidelines and did not feel that the model would be considered to be a child or that the image was of a sexual nature.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the model was 25 at the time the photograph was taken. While the model did appear youthful, she did not appear to be under the age of 16.

We noted that the ad did not feature any explicit sexual references or nudity. The model was sitting with her legs apart, and we considered that this, combined with the fact that she was staring at the camera and licking an ice cream could be seen by some as sexually suggestive. However, we considered that the model's overall pose and expression were not sexually provocative, and the ad was therefore likely to be seen as no more than mildly sexual.

Given the above, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as sexualising children or be seen to be irresponsible.


  Amongst the small ads...

David Currie takes over as the chief advert censor of ASA

Link Here 3rd October 2017
david currieDavid Currie has become the new Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

David is an accomplished regulator, having acted as the inaugural Chairman of both Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). He sits in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. As Chairman he will lead the 13 member ASA Council, Board of the ASA and the body that rules on whether to uphold complaints about ads.

The ASA Council also oversees much of the regulator's pro-active work, with recent initiatives including: tougher standards on broadband prices in ads to ensure consumers aren't misled; research into how consumers understand was and now prices to establish whether more needs to be done to avoid misleadingness; a commitment to new standards to remove harmful gender stereotypes in ads from 2018.

David Currie, incoming ASA Chairman said:

The vast majority of ads in the UK are responsible, but where an ad is misleading, harmful or offensive the ASA is here to put it right. As I take up the chairmanship of the ASA, newer forms of online advertising continue to gain ground, including native and influencer ads and those whose targeting is based on consumers' preferences. Across all of these spheres, as well as in the traditional media, the ASA's mission remains the same -- to make every UK ad a responsible ad .


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