Advertising News

2008: July-Sept

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22nd September   

Exaggerated Figures...

Plastic surgeons call for ban on unfeasible breast enlargement adverts
Link Here

Models with anatomically impossible breasts are being used to seduce female clients to undergo cosmetic surgery that creates unrealistic expectations , senior plastic surgeons said.

Turning their fire on parts of their trade, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said digitally enhanced pictures of bikini-clad women in ecstatic poses should be banned in advertisements.

Promoting lunch-time face-lifts, which could not be carried out in the time, and financial discounts worth up to £250 to reward clients who signed up quickly should also be outlawed, the association said.

The association represents around a third of cosmetic surgeons in the UK but has no powers to regulate the multimillion pound industry, which is growing rapidly.

Douglas McGeorge, the president of the association and a consultant plastic surgeon, said: BAAPS has been increasingly concerned about the standard and style of today's cosmetic surgery advertising. Surgery is a serious undertaking which requires realistic expectations and should only proceed after proper consultation with a properly qualified clinician in an appropriate clinical setting.

He added: It would be lovely to have a lunchtime facelift. But it simply does not exist. The association had complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about some of the advertisements, but by then the damage had been done, he said.


22nd September   

Silence I Kill You...

Achmed the Dead Terrorist at the ASA
Link Here

An Internet ad on YouTube, for a mobile phone ringtone, was headlined MEET ACHMED and depicted a skull with red eyes. He was wearing a white head dress and text in a speech bubble stated SILENCE!! I KILL YOU . A text box stated Click here.

1. Four complainants objected that the ad was deeply offensive and disrespectful to the Muslim religion.

2. Two of the complainants felt it was offensive and insensitive to those who had been victims of terrorism.

ASA Assessment 1. & 2. Not upheld

ASA noted the ad was for a ringtone related to a comedy character that was well known in the USA and that the video of Achmed the dead terrorist had been viewed on YouTube over 54 million times worldwide.

We noted comedy touched on contemporary issues including terrorism. We also noted Xtendmedia said they had taken steps to target users who would be aware of the show and would find the ad humorous.

We considered that, whether or not viewers were aware of the show, some may find the character and the comedy theme of terrorism distasteful or offensive. We considered, however, the part of Achmeds head dress shown in the ad was not recognisable as belonging to any religious tradition. We considered that the text SILENCE!! I KILL YOU would be viewed as light hearted and was unlikely to be seen as a serious threat. We considered that the ad was an accurate representation of the product and concluded that because the ad itself contained no direct reference to terrorism or the Muslim religion, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers of YouTube.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency) but did not find it in breach.

Update: Banned in South Africa

7th October 2008. See article from

A ringtone commercial, featuring Jeff Dunham's puppet was banned in South Africa, following complaints from a Muslim man who had filed that the ad was offensive to the Islamic religion.

Moegamat Khan argued to the South African censor that the character suggested that all Muslims were terrorists.


18th September   

Update: Condemned 2 Censure...

ASA whinge at TV ads for Condemned 2 video game
Link Here
Full story: Condemned 2 Bloodshot...Bloodshot tag line dropped from Condemned 2

Two TV ads for the video game Condemned 2 have been censured by the ASA

a. The first ad, which was cleared by Clearcast with a post-9 pm restriction, showed scenes of violence including a man punching another on the floor and blood splattering on the screen as a man was beaten with a club. The ad ended with a close-up of an eye, surrounded by blood, looking through a spy hole. On-screen text stated: CONDEMNED 2 Out Now ...

b. The second ad, which was cleared by Clearcast with a post-11 pm restriction, was longer in duration. It included the same violent scenes and on-screen text but also included further scenes and a voice-over that stated Where is former agent Thomas? He must be warned, he must know that it's not over. This time, as the characters fought, noises could be heard which seemed to express pain and the force of their exertions.

The ASA received nine complaints:

1. Most of the complainants thought ad (a) condoned violence and was offensive and distressing. One complainant said the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at any time.

2. Some of the complainants thought ad (b) condoned violence and was offensive and distressing. Two complainants said the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at any time.

ASA Assessment: 1. & 2. Upheld

We considered, however, that both the post-9 pm and post-11 pm versions showed the same violent images of blood, beating with clubs and punching and that, with the exception of duration, the differences between the two ads were not significant.

We noted the ads were intended to demonstrate the likely experience of a consumer playing the game. We considered, however, that the ads contained scenes of graphic and brutal violence which, although computer-generated, were realistic in appearance. We noted in particular that both ads showed a man punching another on the floor and blood splattering on the screen as a man was beaten with a club and considered viewers were likely to find those scenes offensive and distressing and to see them as condoning real violence and cruelty.

We considered that, with particular reference to the scenes described above, they were likely to offend or distress some viewers whatever time they were shown and both ads should be withdrawn from transmission completely.

The ads breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 6.1 (Offence), 6.2 (Violence and cruelty) and 6.4 (Personal distress).


8th September   

Offsite: An EU ban on ads with sexist overtones?...

Another quasi-fictional piece of translucent flimflam
Link Here

The story was a brilliant excuse to print Eva Herzigova's infamous Wonderbra ad yet again

According to a pointless piece of eye-rolling anti-EU extrapolation that appeared in a number of newspapers, a smattering of MEPs are calling for the introduction of strict new advertising guidelines that could eventually lead to Eva Herzigova's breasts being taken out and shot.

But wait, it doesn't end there. As the Daily Mail goes on to explain, This being the EU, it is not simply raunchy advertising that is in danger ... It wants anything which promotes women as sex objects or reinforces gender stereotypes to be banned ... Any campaigns which are deemed sexist might have to go ... [such as] the bare-chested builder with a can of Diet Coke in 1996 ... Even famous adverts such as those featuring the Oxo family, with Lynda Bellingham as the housewife, might be deemed sexist.

Inevitably, the minuscule conker of reality at the heart of this shitcloud is markedly less interesting than all this talk of a wild banning outbreak might suggest. Once you remove all the "mights" and "coulds" and other weasel words from the article, you're left with nothing but a report from the EU women's rights committee (doubtless a barrel of laughs at parties), which merely suggests governments should use their existing equality, sexism and discrimination laws to regulate advertising.

See article from


7th September   

Advertising Froth...

Nutters take knife concerns to new depths of ridiculousness
Link Here

A TV ad, for Kronenbourg 1664 lager, began with a male voice-over that said Lets open this new Kronenbourg 1664, with Dynamo Systeme .

The ad then showed a number of French professional chefs in a kitchen. The chefs carried a very large bubble to a work surface, while one chef said I want small bubbles, you know. The ad then showed the chefs using culinary knives to rapidly slice the bubbles into smaller bubbles. Other utensils were also used, including a grater, to reduce the bubbles in size. One scene showed a chef looking into the camera using a small knife to pop three bubbles. Another scene showed a different chef moving quickly towards the camera holding a knife and bursting a bubble in mid-air.

The ad ended with a close-up of the bubbles in a pint of the lager. One of the chefs proclaimed lovely bubbles , while on-screen text stated SMALLER BUBBLES. SMOOTHER TASTE.

Eight nutters challenged whether the ad:

  1. encouraged or condoned violence
  2. linked alcohol with aggressive or antisocial behaviour.
  3. One viewer challenged whether the ad linked drinking with an activity which was potentially dangerous after consuming alcohol.
  4. The ASA challenged whether the ad was likely to appeal strongly to under 18-year olds by reflecting youth culture.

Scottish & Newcastle UK Ltd (Scottish & Newcastle) said they took their responsibilities as an advertiser very seriously. They said the context of the ad was important and pointed out that knives were legitimate tools for chefs practicing their trade. They felt that the role of the knives in the ad was clearly defined and pointed out that they were being used to chop and slice bubbles in a similar manner to food being prepared in a professional kitchen and were not being used as weapons in any way.  They did not feel that the ad depicted or condoned violence or antisocial behaviour.

Clearcast acknowledged that recent media reports had highlighted the problems with knife crime. However, they endorsed Scottish & Newcastle's response and added that they did not feel they could prevent ads from showing knives being used in a legitimate manner. They pointed out that the ad was somewhat surreal and, although the chefs were chopping bubbles, the knives were used in a responsible manner.

ASA Assessment

1. & 2. Not Upheld

The ASA understood that there were serious concerns about knife crime, particularly in light of a number of recent high-profile stabbings. We did not dismiss those concerns lightly, however we considered that the ad showed knives in an entirely different context. We considered that the knives were not depicted as weaponry and the chefs did not engage in threatening, violent or antisocial behaviour whilst using the knives.

Although the ad was shot in such a way as to give the impression of a high-energy environment, we noted that the chefs did not appear aggressive or antisocial at any stage. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to encourage or condone violence, or link alcohol with aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

3. Not Upheld

We acknowledged that the ad did not show alcohol being consumed in the kitchen scenes. We noted that the scenes which showed the chefs using their knives did not show any of the characters drinking alcohol and we considered that it did not give the impression that they were working under the influence of alcohol. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as linking drinking with an activity which was potentially dangerous after the consumption of alcohol.

4. Not Upheld

We considered that, because the dance track was over 10 years old, and the song had not been made popular since, it was unlikely that it would hold strong appeal for under 18-year olds.


6th September   

Hung, Drawn and Quartered...

ASA have a go at adverts for the Edinburgh Dungeon
Link Here

A series of four posters, which all appeared on the same street in Edinburgh, advertised the William Wallace attraction at the Edinburgh Dungeon and portrayed either a dismembered arm or leg.

In each case the severed arm or leg had cuts and open sores that oozed blood and deep ligature marks appeared around the ankles and wrists. Text on the four posters stated "William Wallace ..." , "hung, drawn and quartered ..." , "and made an exhibition of" and "First on your right" respectively. In the fourth poster the fore-finger was in a pointing position. All posters displayed the logo and address of the Edinburgh Dungeon.

Three complainants believed the posters were offensive and distressing and unsuitable for general display.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the complainants' concern that the posters were too offensive for general display. We also acknowledged Merlin's argument that the severed limbs shown were not brightly lit and, unlike an earlier display, were less graphic as no bone was displayed.

We recognised that the tone of the ads, although not to everyone's taste, was intended to be darkly humorous and considered that adults would understand that to be the case. We noted the posters appeared in close proximity to each other and were not seen in isolation; it was clear, therefore, from the message they conveyed as a group, that they referred to an exhibition at the Edinburgh Dungeon and the final poster, with a finger pointing out the location of the attraction, highlighted this in a tone, that was, although somewhat ghoulish, intended to be amusing. We considered that the posters were unlikely, therefore, to cause serious or widespread offence amongst adults.

We noted, however, the limbs on each poster appeared very badly maimed with realistic ligature marks and open wounds, which were explicitly horrific in their portrayal and the graphic depiction of torture they represented. Therefore, although we acknowledged that it was clear to adults that the posters represented a display at the Edinburgh Dungeon, we considered that the images could cause distress to young children, who were likely only to focus on the images and would not understand their meaning or that they were intended to be humorous.

We concluded, therefore, that in the context of an untargeted medium such as a poster where they could be seen by a general audience including children, the images were too shocking and were, therefore, irresponsible.

The posters breached CAP Code clause 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 9.1 (Fear and distress), but did not breach clause 5.1 (Decency).


5th September   

Dour Objectives...

EU legislation objects push for an end to sexist advertising
Link Here

The European Parliament is calling on member states to tackle the issue of gender stereotypes in advertising through public information campaigns.

An EU report, drafted by the legislation objects of the Women's Rights Committee, was adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament today.

It pushes for education initiatives to be introduced that will combat the structurally embedded stereotype images of women and men we find all around us.

The report argues that gender stereotypes are used in advertising to the financial gain of big business and that women have suffered by being represented as objects.

It also calls on member states to monitor ad campaigns and to remove stereotyped and degrading images of women from advertising while introducing regulatory measures to promote balanced and diverse portrayals of women by the media.

The report recommends especially close policing of the use of nudity and noticeably thin women in ad campaigns.

Report author and legislation object Eva-Britt Svensson also highlighted digital media as being of particular concern, especially the portrayal of women in the majority of video games and their supporting advertising.


3rd September   

ASA Whinge about Wanted Posters...

Wanted: Unglamourous movie star for film posters
Link Here

The ASA received complaints about two posters for the film Wanted .

a. One poster showed the profile of the actress Angelina Jolie. She was crouched with her elbow resting on her knee and was holding a gun pointing upwards. In the background the actor James McAvoy held a gun in each hand, pointing towards the reader.

b. Another poster was headlined 6 WEEKS AGO I WAS JUST LIKE YOU ... and stated AND THEN I MET HER ... AND MY WORLD WAS CHANGED FOREVER . It showed several images, of various sizes, of Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and one of the actor Morgan Freeman.

One image of Angelina Jolie showed her laid across the bonnet of a car on her back. She was facing the reader and holding a gun, which pointed in the opposite direction. A final caption next to an image of Angelina Jolie stated ONLY A FEW PEOPLE IN THE WORLD HAVE OUR ABILITIES, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM. WE WILL TRAIN YOU TO LET YOUR INSTINCTS GUIDE YOU. THIS IS YOUR DESTINY, JOIN US . She was facing the viewer and firing a gun. The bullet curved towards the audience and was engraved with GOODBYE.

  1. 17 complainants objected that the ads were irresponsible because they glorified and glamorised gun crime. They felt the ads condoned or were likely to provoke violence or antisocial behaviour.
  2. Of those complainants, 7 also objected that the posters were unsuitable to be seen by children
  3. 7 of the complainants believed the ads were offensive at a time of increasing public concern about gun crime, particularly when seen in those areas most affected.

ASA Decision

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the posters were intended to communicate the theme of the film, which was based on a comic book story about assassins.

We noted Angelina Jolie, an actress generally recognised as being glamorous, featured in both ads and in ad (a) the gun she held featured prominently. We noted James McAvoy's character appeared in an action pose in ad (a) and the guns he held were pointed towards the reader; and that several guns were depicted in ad (b).

We noted one of the guns in ad (b) had recently fired, a moving bullet was shown and the ad featured other images related to the use of guns, including a bullet sprayed target; furthermore, Angelina Jolie was shown, holding a gun, in a pose that may be considered provocative.

We acknowledged most viewers would understand the posters reflected the content of an action film. However, we considered, that because the ads featured a glamorous actress, action poses, several images of or related to guns and aspirational text, they could be seen to glamorise the use of guns and violence. We concluded both ads could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns.

2. Upheld

We concluded that the ads were not suitable to be seen by children because they could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns.

3. Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that gun crime was a source of public concern and had caused distress to local communities. However, we considered most members of the public would understand that the posters reflected the content of an action film. We therefore concluded they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.


29th August   

Juicy Moosey...

Orangina's lap dancing animals wind up the nutters
Link Here

Not since Joe Camel have animated characters so inflamed advocacy groups. A French television commercial (leave it to the French) touting Orangina leaves little to the imagination as anthropomorphized animals dance suggestively to the strains of a Latin beat.

Bikini-clad deer with heaving breasts, pole-dancing flamingos, lap-dancing octopi and a macho-looking bear in a golden thong are just some of the fanciful imagery used to promote the popular drink.

Orangina is a drink which is mainly aimed at children and young people, the director of children's charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, told the Independent. The almost sinister portrayal of animals in an animation style filled with sexual innuendo leads to very mixed and confused messages.

And it's not just children's groups that are outraged.
Equal-rights groups are also unhappy with misogynistic aspects of the ad where visually female critters are seen pandering to the carnal desires of their male counterparts.

The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority received 147 complaints concerning the commercial. Orangina aired on British television during an episode of How to Look Good Naked.


29th August   

Not So Flash Advertising...

Apple iPhone control freakery means reduced internet availability
Link Here

A television advert for the iPhone misled consumers, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.

Two complaints to the watchdog noted that the advert said all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone.

But the ASA said because the iPhone did not support Flash or Java - two programs that form part of many webpages - the claim was misleading.

The iPhone employs a web browser called Safari, which is built on freely available software. Many webpages, however, employ small software programs like Flash and Java to display graphics and animations.

Those programs are proprietary software, and Apple does not allow unapproved software to run on the iPhone. The result is that pages viewed with Safari are missing the parts of the webpage generated in Flash or Java.

The ASA said the advert gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone. It must therefore not be aired again in its current form, it said.


24th August   

Update: Orgasmic Nutters...

Whingers get off on advert for longer lasting sex
Link Here
Full story: Longer Lasting Sex...Nutters get off on advert for longer lasting sex

The Advanced Medical Institute's bold red and yellow signs advertising erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation treatment were the second-most complained about advertisement in Australia last year.

One council has ordered it be removed within 14 days because it breaches bylaws. The Town of Kwinana has written to the owner of the billboard telling them to remove the sign immediately,' council chief executive Neil Hartley said: Council bylaws state that any advertising sign must relate to land use only, unless granted an exemption from council. In regards to this particular advertising sign wording, the town believes it is inappropriate and that it would not be granted approval. The landowner will be prosecuted if the sign is not removed.

In 2007, the Advertising Standards Bureau received more than 190 complaints about the sign. The first, in February, was dismissed by the ASB on the basis that it was not insensitive and the word sex itself was not offensive.

The same billboards were pulled down in New Zealand this year after its Advertising Standards Authority ruled them offensive.


21st August   

The Stalker...

Australian Jim Beam advert jokes about stalking
Link Here

An Australian TV commercial which makes a joke of stalking could be pulled off our screens after complaints it would cause anguish for real victims of the crime.

In the Jim Beam ad The Stalker , which is shown on Fox Sports and free-to-air TV, an attractive woman talks about stalking a man she broke up with two years earlier.

A restraining order is just a piece of paper, she says before revealing she wears a disguise when she follows him.

Another Jim Beam commercial The Neighbours - in which two naked Swedish girls encourage people to undress as they are spied on by a neighbour - and its associated website have also been removed.

Victims of Crime Assistance League executive director Robyn Cotterell-Jones said the ad trivialised a form of violence: Stalking is a frightening tactic and has ended in murder. There is nothing amusing or enticing to those who are its victims, who suffer its tragic consequences for the rest of their lives.

Jim Beam Global Spirits and Wine marketing director James Sykes said the tongue-in-cheek ads were designed to appeal to the Aussie sense of humour.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code states that advertisements must be mature, responsible and not promote offensive behaviour. The Advertising Standards Bureau confirmed it had received complaints about both ads and its board would decide when it met next month whether they should be taken off air.


21st August   

Offsite: Advertising Nutter Sensitivity...

Provocative Commercials Get Pulled...Unless They're About Catholics
Link Here
Full story: Heinz Gay Advert...Heinz condemned for normalising gay relationships

More and more, says a spokesman for the Catholic League, ads are designed to insult Catholics — a group she said comprises a safe target for bigotry.

Corporations often want to push social agendas in their advertising, but mostly they want to sell products, said Susan Fani, director of communication for the Catholic League.: If making social or political points is going to hurt product sales, it gets their attention pretty fast. Ultimately, the bottom line is what matters — and that’s why it’s important to speak out regarding offensive advertising.

Those who claim to be tolerant above all else seem to be intolerant of Catholicism. That may be because the Church takes strong moral stands regarding sexuality, and this society wants a more lenient approach to sexuality. The Church represents opposition to much of what commerce wants to promote.

...Read full article


7th August   

The Sweet Smell of Hype...

Calvin Klein perfume advert banned from US TV
Link Here

A Calvin Klein perfume ad featuring actress Eva Mendes has been banned by US networks for its racy content.

The star caresses herself, rolls around in a rumpled bed and - oops! - flashes a nipple in the 30-second TV spot for Secret Obsession.

The ban is not entirely a surprise for the U.S. market, Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein, Inc., said in a statement to the Daily News.

The attention surrounding the ad just reinforces our belief in the campaign, which has really struck a chord with consumers and in true Calvin Klein fashion, sparks controversy, said Catherine Walsh, vice president of American Fragrances, Coty Prestige, which produces the perfume.

An edited version of the ad will run stateside on cable TV. The original will run abroad.


3rd August   

Whinging Dumbbells...

Virgin gym advert alluding to sex toys offends the nutters
Link Here

A circular to promote Virgin Active Health Clubs featured an image of a dumbbell with Sex toy written in large text over it. Inside the circular further text over an image of a woman holding the dumbbell stated Now, let the fun begin .... The body copy stated Forget fluffy handcuffs, kinky costumes and erotic locations. You want to spice up your sex life? We've got all the toys you need, at Virgin Active Health Clubs. Not only does exercise sex up your body and send your energy levels through the roof, it increases blood flow to all of your vital organs - (wink, wink) ....

Eight complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, particularly because it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment : Not upheld

Although we considered that the layout and language used in the ad may be distasteful to some, we considered it was unlikely to be understood by young children and would not cause them harm. We concluded the ad was acceptable to be distributed as a circular.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses for Decency and Children, but did not find it in breach.


30th July   

Update: GTA IV Ad OK at ASA...

ASA find against those whinging about Grand Theft Auto IV advert
Link Here
Full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

A TV ad for the release of Grand Theft Auto IV (Cert 18) in association with Microsoft Xbox. The ad showed a man walking towards the viewer with the background scene and his clothes changing frequently. In the background there were several scenes of people firing guns and cars exploding. Towards the end of the ad, the man broke into a car by smashing the window and then drove away.


  • 10 viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive and harmful, especially to children and young people under 18 years of age, because it condoned violence and criminal behaviour.
  • 7 viewers complained that the ad was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children. Two viewers pointed out that the ad was shown during televised European football matches, which, they believed, were watched by audiences with a large number of children and young people.

The ad was cleared for TV by Clearcast who said the ad merely focused on the hero as he walked down a street. They maintained the action in the background was cartoon like and over-the-top as a graphic representation of a popular computer game, which was in its fourth version. Clearcast acknowledged that stealing a car was a criminal act but believed its depiction in the ad was extremely unlikely to encourage emulation in viewers or cause widespread offence. Clearcast believed, had the ad been for a film, viewers would not have complained. They said numerous film ads that contained violent images had less stringent timing restrictions.

Clearcast said the game Grand Theft Auto IV carried an 18 rating. They said they automatically gave games with 18 ratings an "ex-kids" restriction and they therefore were not shown around programmes made specifically for children. In addition there was a warning to broadcasters for sensitive scheduling because the game was available for only adults to buy. They had considered that the current ad contained no violent scenes and was not threatening in tone. They also believed it did not glorify the trappings of a gangster lifestyle. They had nonetheless taken a cautious approach and had given the ad a post 7:30 pm restriction.

ASA Assessment

The ASA noted that the main character did not engage with the background sequences and, in any case, they did not depict inter-personal violence or graphic scenes of injury. We considered that viewers were likely to regard the background scenes as dramatic action sequences associated with the game and they were unlikely to be seen to condone violent behaviour. We also considered that the sequences shown were relatively mild and fleeting and were therefore unlikely to cause harm to children by condoning violence. Although we noted the ad's climax featured a depiction of car crime, we noted Clearcast had given the ad a post-7:30 pm restriction, which reduced the number of unaccompanied children and young people who might see the ad.

We acknowledged that some viewers might object to the themes of the actual game itself. However, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm by condoning violence and criminal behaviour.

We concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the post-7:30 pm restriction was sufficient and did not find the advert in breach of the code.


28th July   

Up Yours...

Ryanair winds up the Italian government
Link Here

Ryanair is in confrontation with Silvio Berlusconi's government after refusing to withdraw an advert claiming Italian ministers had an "up yours" attitude to their voters.

Altero Matteoli, the transport minister in Berlusconi's rightwing cabinet, said yesterday he was calling a meeting of the Italian civil aviation authority to decide what steps to take against the company. He said its attacks on the government's transport policies and the national flag carrier, Alitalia, were "genuinely unpleasant".

The trouble began when the Irish airline posted an advert on its website with a photograph of Umberto Bossi, the leader of the Northern League and a member of the cabinet, "giving the finger". Bossi made the obscene gesture, which caused widespread controversy in Italy, after hearing the Italian national anthem being played at a rally of the separatist League.

In the advert it is depicted as symbolising the government's attitude to Italian airline passengers. Ryanair has been in the forefront of attacks on the subsidising of flag carriers such as Alitalia.

The advert said his government supports Alitalia's high fares; supports Alitalia's frequent strikes [and] doesn't give a damn about Italian passengers.

Matteoli deplored the advertisement as vulgar and offensive , and demanded an apology. A junior transport minister, belonging to the League, said he would be asking officials to check on the company's status in Italy to see if it could do these things.


26th July   

Get Some Nuts...

Snickers withdraw Mr T tank advert
Link Here

A UK television advertisement been withdrawal after a gay rights group called it offensive.

The Associated Press is reporting that Mars is pulling a Snickers television ad that offended gay groups.

The commercial features 80's star Mr. T in an armoured truck shooting snickers bars and ridiculing a gay stereotyped jogger.

During the advert, Mr T, who played B.A. Baracus in the 1980s series The A-Team, pulls up in a large truck next to a speed walker and shouts: "Speed walking. I pity you fool. You are a disgrace to the man race. It's time to run like a real man."

He then fires Snickers bars at the man until he breaks into a sprint.

Mars says the ad was meant to be funny. But gay rights group Human Rights Campaign failed to find the humour: These kinds of ads perpetuate the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.


26th July   

That Ain't Right...

Nike withdraw ad for basketball shoes
Link Here

Nike said it will drop ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes that critics said played off some viewers' homophobia.

Nike spokesman Bob Applegate told The Oregonian that three separate print, poster and billboard ads would be removed as expeditiously as possible. The ads were titled That Ain't Right, Isn't That Cute, and Punks Jump Up .

One ad showed a basketball player dunking over another. The crotch of the player dunking was planted firmly in the other player's face. The ad sported a large tagline: That Ain't Right.

Nike stood by the ads earlier this week, saying the ads were based purely upon a common insight from within the game of basketball - the athletic feat of dunking on the opposition, and is not intended to be offensive.


17th July   

Gremlins Take to Writing Mischievous Complaints...

ASA clears BT Gremlins advert
Link Here

A TV ad, for BTs 24/7 Business service, showed Dragons' Den presenter Peter Jones working late in his darkened office. Gremlins (from the feature film of the same name) appeared from a lift and one chewed through a cable whilst Jones wasn't looking. His computer malfunctioned and as he went to try and fix it the Gremlins caused more havoc with the electrics, cackling, photocopying themselves, swinging from the ceiling fan and tampering with the mains. A voice-over at the end stated Because you never know when an IT problem might strike, BT offers all business customers 24/7 IT and communications support.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

Eleven viewers challenged whether the scheduling restriction was sufficient, and objected that the ad was unsuitable to be broadcast at times when children might be watching, because they said their young children had been frightened by the Gremlins and some had suffered from nightmares as a result of seeing the ad.

ASA Assessment

Not upheld. No further action required.

The ASA acknowledged that the pointy teeth, green-grey skin, large ears and goblinesque features of the Gremlins might scare very young children. However, we noted that the Gremlins in the ad were shown delighting in the creation of chaos in Peter Jones' office rather than revelling in menacing him in any way. We considered that, overall, the Gremlins' antics were likely to be seen as comedic rather than threatening.

Whilst we acknowledged some parents were concerned their young children had been scared by the Gremlins, we noted Clearcast had applied an ex-kids restriction to the ad, which meant it could not be shown in or around programmes made specifically for, or targeted at, children. Given the overall light-hearted tone of the ad (which we considered was likely to be apparent to all but the very young) we concluded that the timing restriction was sufficient.


17th July   

Olympic Sport of Torturing...

Amnesty ad winds up the Chinese
Link Here

An advertising campaign for Amnesty International combining Olympics imagery and scenes of torture has come under attack in China even though it was never shown.

The series of images includes a man being pushed headfirst into a swimming pool, a policeman walking away from a man who has been shot while lashed to an archery target. In a third, a woman is chained to a dumbbell in the colours of the Olympic rings.

The slogan reads: After the Olympic Games, the fight for human rights must go on.

They were commissioned from the advertising firm TBWA by Amnesty's French offices. Even though the organisation decided not to use them because they were too graphic, the firm entered them for a website competition, from where they began to circulate on China's internet bulletin boards.

Some commenters called for Chinese employees of the firm to resign, while others pointed out the connection to France, which has become a prime object of nationalist outrage following disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty in France said: We didn't feel comfortable with the proposed visuals, which were perhaps too violent. But the message that the fight goes on we support 200 per cent.


10th July   

Update: Rockstar do their Homework...

Bully advert passes the ASA test with flying colours
Link Here
Full story: Bully Video Game...Scholarship Edition re-ignites moral campaigners

A TV ad, for a computer game called Bully: Scholarship Edition , showed a schoolboy in a headmaster's office. The headmaster said Ah, so you must be Hopkins. You're quite the nastiest little boy I have ever encountered to which Hopkins replied I'm just trying to fit in.

Hopkins was then shown kicking a wooden box apart, firing a catapult and shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom. The ad went on to show students running away from a mouse and Hopkins emerging from a locker, creeping around the school and skateboarding.

Two other characters were shown lifting another student up by his underpants. Hopkins kissed a girl and watched the canteen chef laughing and sneezing into a cooking pot. A voice-over stated Bully:Scholarship Edition . Rated BBFC 15.

31 complainants took issue:

  1. Several viewers, some of whom had experienced bullying, complained that the ad was offensive and distasteful.
  2. Most viewers complained that the ad glorified, trivialised and encouraged bullying and violence. Some of them were concerned that the ad gave the wrong message in the current climate of bullying, suicides and violent crime amongst young people.
  3. Some viewers complained that the ad was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment:

  1. Not upheld

    The ASA noted scenes that depicted property being damaged, a weapon being fired, and pupils fleeing were played in quick succession. Although some viewers might see those actions as the work of a bully, we noted the only scene that showed bullying behaviour was where two larger boys lifted a character by his underwear. We considered that that scene was cartoon-like in nature, and would be seen as representative of the contents of the game, rather than as a realistic portrayal of intimidation or bullying. We concluded that, although many might find the name and content of the game to be in poor taste, the content of the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
  2. Not upheld

    We noted the character of Hopkins was not intended to be a bully and would often be tasked with overcoming bullies. We considered that the ad did not contain explicit or graphic violence and that young people would see the lifting of a boy by his underpants as comic and exaggerated, rather than as realistic or condoning intimidating behaviour. We also considered that viewers were unlikely to draw a direct analogy between the computer-generated, stereotyped school setting and contemporary society. We concluded that the ad did not glorify or encourage bullying and violence among young people.
  3. Not upheld

    We noted the game carried a 15 rating and the ad had an 'ex-kids' restriction, which would help prevent younger children from seeing it. We noted the advertiser had taken care to schedule appropriately through the extra measures it had taken to ensure that the ad was not seen by a significant number of under-15s. Although some complainants reported viewing the ads in prime-time programmes and football matches, we considered that the ad was unlikely to present a problem if seen by older children and adolescents. We concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the 'ex-kids' restriction was sufficient.


3rd July   

Update: Family Arseholes...

US nutters harangue Heinz over the UK deli kissing advert
Link Here
Full story: Heinz Gay Advert...Heinz condemned for normalising gay relationships

A right-wing and outspokenly homophobic group in the United States organised a campaign against an advert that was only shown in the UK.

The ad, which featured a kiss between two men, was targeted by what gay equality group Stonewall called an organised campaign here in Britain.

It has emerged that a similar tactic was used by the American Family Association. Heinz's corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh was deluged with complaints from some of the estimated 3.5 million fundamentalist Christians in the AFA.

We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz, the AFA said in an email to supporters, reports The Guardian: This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the US soon.

Heinz UK had already decided to pull the advert from British TV before the AFA became involved, a decision that has led everyone from gay groups to MPs to condemn them.

See full article from the Guardian

The UK's advertising regulator has decided not to investigate Heinz's "male kiss" TV ad, despite 215 complaints from viewers that it was offensive and inappropriate to see two men kissing.

The ASA council considered that while some viewers may have personal objections to any portrayal of same sex kissing there was nothing in the content of the advertisement what would constitute a breach of the advertising code, said a spokesman for the ASA.

The Heinz TV ad carried an "ex-kids" restriction, meaning it cannot be shown in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo falls foul of Ofcom's TV ad restrictions relating to junk food products.

A spokesman for Heinz said that despite the ad being cleared of breaching the advertising code the company had no plans to put the Heinz Deli Mayo TV commercial back on air.


2nd July   

Update: Returning the Kiss...

Calls for Heinz gay kissing advert to be reinstated
Link Here
Full story: Heinz Gay Advert...Heinz condemned for normalising gay relationships

MPs are calling for an advert showing two men kissing to be reinstated after it was pulled following complaints. More than two decades after the first gay kiss on teatime TV, a kiss is clearly not always just a kiss.

Twenty-one years after Britain's first gay kiss on primetime TV prompted condemnation from MPs, a show of intimacy between two men clearly still has the capacity to shock television audiences.

Heinz has withdrawn an advert for its Deli Mayo brand one week into a five-week schedule. It depicts a man with a New York accent and dressed like a chef, making sandwiches in a homely British family kitchen. After a schoolboy and girl - who refer to the wise-cracking chef as "Mum" - dash through to pick up their sandwiches, their harried father appears, seemingly late for work. The father says a fleeting goodbye but is summoned back by the chef for a more intimate farewell - a brief kiss.

A spokeswoman for the ASA says it's still assessing whether to investigate, but added that homosexuality in itself is not a breach of the code and complaints in the past about adverts showing same-sex kissing had not prompted any action.

Yet one organisation failing to see the funny side is the American Family Association, which issued an action alert to members over the advert urging them to register their disapproval with the firm's US headquarters.

But the withdrawal of the advert has prompted some MPs to insist it be reinstated, while gay rights group Stonewall is leading a campaign to boycott Heinz.

Some people could be offended by seeing a mixed race couple but the real issue is whether it's proportionate to withdraw an advert on that basis, says chief executive Ben Summerskill: No nine or 10-year-old child is going to be outraged by two men kissing unless someone tells that child to be upset.


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