Two ads for Lewis Oliver Estates, an estate agent, seen in April and June 2018:
a. A poster ad featured an image of a topless man wearing fitted boxer shorts. The image was cropped so that only the model's torso and thighs were visible. Text stated WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE. A roundel containing the text Fully managed letting
service was placed over the model's crotch.
b. A leaflet featured the same image and text as ad (a).Issue
Two complainants, who believed that the image was irrelevant to the service being advertised and objectified the man, objected that the ad was offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that the ad was for an estate agent, and the image of a topless man bore no relation to the product being advertised. While the pose was only mildly suggestive in nature, we noted that the man's head was cropped out of the
picture, which invited viewers to focus on his body. We considered that the phrase WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE, in combination with the service information placed over the model's crotch, was a clear reference to male genitalia. Taking the image,
strapline and placement of the roundel into account, we considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the man by using his physical features to draw attention to an unrelated product. We concluded that the ad was likely
to cause serious offence to some people.
The ads must not appear again in the forms complained about. We told Lewis Oliver Estates Ltd not to portray men in a manner that objectified them and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
A TV ad for Boost, an energy provider, seen in February 2018, promoted a prepayment energy smart meter. The ad began with a woman holding a torch whilst trying to turn on her light switch. The next scene featured an Asian man standing in a Kung
Fu stance in a yellow jumpsuit similar to the jumpsuits worn by Bruce Lee. On-screen yellow text stated BOOST LEE IN 'FINGER OF FURY' accompanied by Chinese text which translated to finger of fury. Smaller on-screen text stated MMXVIII Bruce
Lee Rights/TM Bruce Lee Enterprises. The man screamed and held his phone out saying Tap me. The woman then also screamed and performed a Kung Fu action and tapped the phone. The next scene showed the man teaching the woman how to perform Kung
Fu actions whilst saying, It's like a finger pointing away to the bulb. Concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory. Top up your power anytime, anywhere with Boost pay as you go energy. Don't think, switch.Issue
A complainant, who believed the ad featured outdated racial stereotypes, challenged whether the ad was offensive and condoned harmful discriminatory behaviour and was scheduled inappropriately.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad featured a character named Boost Lee wearing a yellow jumpsuit, teaching martial arts. The character was seen performing different Kung Fu stances while screaming and encouraging the female character to mimic those
actions. We considered that viewers would understand that the character was intended to resemble Bruce Lee.
We understood the complainant was concerned that the comedic portrayal of Bruce Lee in that manner, including the use of an exaggerated Chinese accent with Ku Fung screams perpetuated the racial stereotype that all Chinese people were Kung Fu
experts and spoke in a similar style. However, we noted that the ad did not contain any general references to Chinese people and therefore considered that viewers were likely to understand that the ad was specifically parodying Bruce Lee rather
than Chinese people generally. We considered the ad was likely to be interpreted as light-hearted and humorous and therefore was unlikely to encourage the mocking or belittling of Chinese people.
We further considered that because the ad did not contain anything derogatory and did not mock Chinese people, the content of the ad was suitable for children to see and therefore did not require a scheduling restriction.
We concluded that the ad did not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment of Chinese people and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also concluded that the ad was scheduled appropriately.