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Advertising News

2012: Jan-March

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Offsite Article: Advertising Nutter Views...

Link Here8th June 2012
An Australian advertising worker outlines how the country's advert censor is ineffective in imposing nutter views on society

See article from


19th May   

Update: What Next? The Paddy Powers Handicap Chase?...

ASA uphold complaints about Paddy Power's Stallions and Mares TV advert
Link Here
Full story: Paddy Powers...Bookmakers adverts wind up the easily offended

A TV ad for Paddy Power, seen in February 2012, had a voice-over which stated Ian Reed wrote on our Facebook wall 'Can't wait to see some beauties at Cheltenham Ladies Day' and showed the comment on their Facebook page. The ad then showed various shots of Cheltenham racecourse while the voice-over stated We hear you Ian and we're going to make Ladies Day even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgendered ladies! Spot the stallions from the mares! . The words Stallions and Mares appeared on screen in large text and were shown to mate with each other. The voice-over then stated Here we go and the ad showed a series of brief shots of people at the event while the voice-over attempted to guess their gender. Their actual gender was not given. In one scene a woman was shown holding a dog while the voice-over stated woman then hesitated while the shot changed to show a woman walking out of a men's toilet and stated dog, I mean, man . At the end of the ad the voice-over stated And remember, all the runners, all the riders, right in the palm of your hand with Paddy Power Mobile. We hear you Ian Reed!

The ASA received 92 complaints:

  1. The Kent Transgender Forum, LGBT Diversity and 90 other complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive.

  2. The Kent Transgender Forum and LGBT Diversity and 24 other complainants challenged whether the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.

Paddy Power plc (Paddy Power) said they sought to comply with the CAP and BCAP Codes and were mindful of the regulation around the betting and gaming industry. They said, because their customers were adults, the ad contained adult humour directed to an adult audience.

Paddy Power said they took their responsibilities as an advertiser very seriously and had carefully considered the issues associated with the idea at the concept stage. They said, in following what they considered to be best practice, they consulted the Beaumont Society, which they understood was the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK. They said they had shared the script for the ad with the Beaumont Society and worked with them and Clearcast to ensure the ad met with broadcasting and decency standards and argued that the ad had therefore been prepared responsibly.

Paddy Power said, at the time of responding, the ad was still on YouTube and had attracted a large number of views and had been liked by the vast majority.

Clearcast said they worked very closely with the advertising agency prior to approving the ad to ensure that the treatment complied fully with both the spirit and letter of the BCAP Code. They said, when the ad was first submitted they had expressed concerns about the offence that may be caused to members of the transgender community and had therefore directed Paddy Power to seek a view from the Beaumont Society, whom the ASA had previously recognised as an appropriate place to seek advice on scripts concerning possible transgender related issues.

Clearcast said, whilst they acknowledged that the ad might not be to everyone's personal taste, they also took into account the view received by the Beaumont Society, that the ad fell short of encouraging negative stereotypes of transgender people and women in general. They said, once the ad went to air, the response from certain groups in the transgender community as well as viewers, made them uncomfortable with the advice which they had received. They said, given the level of discomfort that was expressed they consulted with the broadcasters and jointly agreed that the clearance for the ad should be revoked.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted the response provided by Clearcast and that Paddy Power, at Clearcast's direction, had sought a view on the concept and script from the Beaumont Society who were a national self-help body run by and for those who cross-dressed or were transsexual. The Beaumont Society explained that they had advised Paddy Power to use transgendered believing that that phrase was not problematic, but that they now understood that some sections of the transgender community were offended by it. They provided a copy of the script on which they had advised and pointed out that it did not include the scene in which a woman left a men's toilet and was referred to as a dog, and said they did not agree with its inclusion. They said, while the script they were provided with did make reference to stallions and mares , they were not happy with the manner in which those terms were used in the finished ad, which they had not seen prior to broadcast. We noted that, following negative feedback, Clearcast had now revoked the clearance for the ad.

The ASA also sought advice from Trans Media Watch whose specific area of work was the media portrayal of transgender issues and people.

1. Upheld

We considered that the suggestion that trans people could be segregated into the gender stereotypes stallions and mares as part of a guessing game, trivialised a complex and difficult issue and objectified them in a way that was likely to cause them serious offence.

We noted that, in one scene, a person was shown holding a dog, while the voice-over hesitated, before saying dog , by which time the scene had changed to show a woman leaving a man's toilet. We considered that the suggestion that a trans woman would need to, or should, use a men's toilet and the reference to a woman as a dog were also likely to cause serious offence to women generally and trans women specifically. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence.

On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence).

2. Upheld

We considered for the reasons given in point 1 above, that the ad trivialised a highly complex issue and depicted a number of common negative stereotypes about trans people. We considered that by suggesting that trans women would look like men in drag and that their gender could be speculated on as part of a game, the ad irresponsibly reinforced those negative stereotypes and, particularly by framing the game in a way that involved a member of the public who had commented on Paddy Power's Facebook page, the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.

On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 4.8 (Harm and offence).


31st March   

Australia Doesn't Dare...

Nonsense about Madonna's cleavage being too much for the easily offended in Australia
Link Here

The Australian TV stations ABC has deemed Madonna's ad for her new her perfume, Truth or Dare, too sexy.

The 30-second television commercial shows the singer cavorting in a low-cut corset and fishnet stockings, while singing and writhing to the dance beat, I'm a bad girl.

Now network executives have ordered the black-and-white perfume ad to be digitally altered to cover the offending shots of her cleavage.

Among the content changes that have reportedly been requested are digitally altering the singer's bra to make it bigger and extend higher, covering more of her chest, and also making her corset longer to cover more of her behind.

Once the requested changes have been made, ABC will only air the perfume ad after 9pm, with the exception of the daytime talk show The View.

Update: National Cleavage Day

3rd April 2012. See article from , thanks to Nick

It seems that ABC's censorial nonsense is there way of celebrating National Cleavage Day, celebrated anually on 31st March.


30th March   

Updated: Can 'Healing on the Streets' Heal Belief in Nonsense?...

Group of MPs challenge the ASA for banning adverts containing nonsense healing claims
Link Here
Full story: Censors vs Religious Healing...Censors unimpressed by claims of religious healing

Last month the advertising censors at the ASA banned a christian group, Healing on the Streets - Bath, from making nonsense claims about their healing services.

They censured a leaflet which stated:


Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness?

We'd love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness.

Now MPs from the Christians in Parliament group are challenging the ASA decision. Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem), have written to Chris Smith, Chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency:

We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.

We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.

On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?

You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.

It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?

We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.

Update: Oops...the letter was a mistake

30th March 2012. See  article from

It seems that the Lib Dems were not impressed by their MP, Tim Farron, signing the letter.

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron has now apologised for the wording of a letter which called for a ban on adverts that claimed God could heal sick people to be overturned, but stood by his belief that prayer could help.

Following the publication of the letter Farron apologised to Liberal Democrat members, many of whom disagreed with his decision to sign the letter. In a post on the grass-roots Liberal Democrat Voice website, Farron said it was not a well-worded and that he should not have signed it as it was written . He said:

The reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don't believe in

For what it's worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn't have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some of you in quite a difficult position.


30th March   

Update: Dangerous Uploads...

Australia's advert dutifully ban Mossimo Peep Show advert on the grounds that it somehow condones sexting
Link Here

Australian anti-sexualisation nutters Collective Shout! , launched a campaign against an Australian clothing store, Mossimo , who introduced an advertising campaign in shops and on Facebook alluding to peep shows.

Collective Shout! reported the campaign to Australia's advertising censors at the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

The ASM report explained:

Window display with the words Peep show and take a peek inside accompanied by images of men and women in lingerie. In one image the woman is pulling at the man's underpants so that they are coming away from his waist

Example Complaint

These windows are in plain view of children and provide complete approval of something that is illegal. It takes away the choice I get to make as a parent regarding the view my children should be allowed to make but it also made me feel the complete objectification of women. On the one hand I am being encouraged as a parent to protect my children from this sort of thing on the internet and provide strict parenting controls to protect and value my children but in a shopping centre they are being confront with something that not only provides a distorted perception for women but ok's doing this in secret. This is entirely unacceptable material for display to the general public.

Mossimo Response

Mossimo is a cheeky, irreverent and light-hearted brand! In the same vein, the Mossimo Peepshow Facebook campaign is a cheeky, irreverent, light-hearted and slightly controversial promotion that is consistent with Mossimo Underwear's brand positioning.

Mossimo believes that the Mossimo Peepshow Facebook app represents the best way to talk to its target audience in a language and a medium with which they are both familiar and use regularly. In this respect, the company believes that is no different to underwear advertisements in catalogues, print or other media channels, which are employed by other brands to talk to their customers. Indeed you could argue that the annual Victoria's Secret Parade which airs on Channel 10 despite being rated PG is far more risqué.

ASB Decision: Breach of the code for condoning sexting

The Board considered that the overall impression of the images was suggestive of images taken in a person's home and is suggestive of sexting - the practice of, in particular, young people sending explicit photographs of themselves via mobile phones.

The Board noted that sexting is an issue of concern in Australian society. The Board considered that the woman appears young and that the issue of sexting is of particular concern where it concerns young men and women and older children. The Board considered that the images of Liz on the website were sexualised and suggestive of sexting .

The Board considered that these images were not appropriate considering that the target audience of the advertisement is likely to include young men and women - the same audience considered to be at risk with regards to the issue of sexting .

The Board determined that these images did not treat sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and that the images breached section 2.3 of the Code.

The Board then considered section 2.6 of the Code:

Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not depict material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety.

While accepting the Advertiser's commitment to refusing to publish inappropriate photos, the Board considered it possible that younger people would see the current advertisement as condoning or at least giving some legitimacy to the behaviour of uploading images of themselves in underwear and that this is a message that the community views as unacceptable.

The Board considered that this advertisement depicted material contrary to prevailing community standards on online behaviour and safety and was in breach of section 2.6 of the Code.


28th March   

Updated: Turkish Jewish Group Ignores the 'Day of No Outrage'...

'Outraged' by an inane shampoo advert in Turkey that features a ranting Hitler
Link Here

A Turkish shampoo commercial featuring Adolf Hitler has drawn 'outrage' from Jewish groups worldwide and calls for it to be banned immediately.

It's totally unacceptable to make use of Hitler, the most striking example of cruelty and savagery, the Turkish Jewish Community said in a statement.

The commercial for Biomen, a men's shampoo, shows a gesticulating Hitler delivering an enthusiastic speech, urging male customers to buy the product that is a 100% male shampoo.

The United States-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined in the 'outrage'. Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the ADL said:

Using Hitler, who was responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy.

It is an insult to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, those who survived, and those who fought to defeat the Nazis.

Update: Storm Troopers Wade In

28th March 2012.  See  article from

A Turkish TV advert for men's shampoo, featuring Adolf Hitler, has been withdrawn following complaints from the country's Jewish community. Turkey's Jewish community threatened legal action over the unacceptable use of Hitler to promote the product.

The Istanbul-based advertising firm, Marka, and the company that produces the product, Biota Laboratories, both confirmed that, after just ten days on air, the decision had been taken to withdraw the advert for Biomen shampoo.

The Jewish community seemed more upset than they were supposed to be, Beril Mardin, account director with the Istanbul-based advertising firm Marka told the BBC.


21st March   

That's a Bit Rich!...

ASA dismisses batch of whinges about Harvey Nichols 'Walk of Shame' advert
Link Here

An ad uploaded onto YouTube by Harvey Nichols, titled A Harvey Nichols Christmas 2011 - Ever Faced the Walk of Shame? , was viewed between 6 and 12 December 2011. The ad showed several women in evening wear making their way home in the early morning, apparently after a night out. The women all looked dishevelled and uncomfortable, and some were given second looks from passers-by. On-screen text then appeared, which stated Avoid the Walk of Shame this Season , followed by footage of a smartly-dressed woman approaching the entrance of a flat and confidently acknowledging a postman.

The ASA received several complaints:

  1. One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it reinforced negative stereotypes of women, and in particular those women who chose to have casual sex.

  2. One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and sexist, because it was demeaning to women.

  3. One complainant challenged whether the ad, and in particular a scene of a woman wearing ripped tights, was offensive, because it implied sexual violence.

  4. Three complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it suggested that lower class women who had one-night stands should feel shame, whilst more wealthy women who behaved in the same way should feel proud.

  5. One complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it mocked less wealthy women and those who did not have model figures.

Harvey Nichols & Company (HNC) said they were sorry to hear that the ad had offended or caused concern. They said their intention had been to raise a smile by reminding people of a familiar hazard of the Christmas party season -- of waking up somewhere unfamiliar the day after a night out and having to embark on the journey home in attire that was less than suitable for the morning rush hour. HNC said that, in the past few years, that phenomenon had been popularly referred to as the Walk of Shame , but the ad was intended to convey the idea that women did not have any reason to be ashamed. Rather, it was intended to highlight the fact that society tended to be judgemental, and to suggest, playfully, that a woman's choice of outfit could go some way to offsetting that tendency. They said their intention was to show that women could also do the Stride of Pride , which was how men were popularly referred to in the same situation.

HNC said the response to the ad suggested that the vast majority of people who saw it had enjoyed it and taken it in the spirit with which it was intended. They said it had been enjoyed and celebrated by women's magazines and, after 725,000 views on YouTube, the ad had received 1223 likes and only 221 dislikes.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Not upheld

The ASA noted HNC's view that the women had not necessarily had one-night stands. However, like the complainants, we understood the term Walk of Shame to be popularly understood to refer to an early morning journey home specifically after a one-night stand. We therefore considered that, by referencing the Walk of Shame , the implication of the ad was that the women had had casual sex the previous night. Nonetheless, we noted that whilst the ad mainly depicted women on the Walk of Shame who looked dishevelled and uncomfortable, the final scene showed a woman who appeared neat and confident. We considered the ad did not, therefore, reinforce negative stereotypes of women generally, or women who chose to have casual sex in particular, nor that it was sexist or demeaning to women.

We understood one complainant believed the ad was offensive because the scene of a woman wearing ripped tights implied sexual violence. However, we considered the majority of viewers would not interpret the scene in that way, because ripped or laddered tights were common in everyday situations.

We noted the ad depicted women of a range of sizes and in a variety of dress styles. We also noted they were shown in a range of locations and situations which did not necessarily suggest they belonged to a specific social class or had a certain level of wealth. We therefore considered the ad did not imply that lower class women who had one-night stands should feel shame whilst more wealthy women should feel proud, or that it mocked less wealthy women who did not have model figures.

We acknowledged that some people might find the theme of the ad distasteful, but we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

On all points, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


15th March   

Updated: Miraculously Easily Offended...

Red Bull walking on water advert winds up the Catholic Diocese of Rio de Janeiro
Link Here

A Red Bull commercial has caused huge controversy for allegedly mocking Jesus' miracle of walking on water, and could be banned in Brazil by the National Advertising Council (CONAR), according to Brazilian publication Globo.

In the cartoon ad, Jesus and two of his disciples are sitting inside a small fishing boat. Jesus suddenly gets up and with frustration says: Well guys, that is it! Nothing is going to happen today! I am getting out of here! He leaves the boat and apparently walks on the water. Eventually explaining: There is no miracle here! You just have to be smart and find the rocks to step on.

Local media outlets are reporting that the Catholic Diocese of Rio de Janeiro is considering legal action.

Red Bull has denied any intention of mocking Jesus. The communication department explained:

Red Bull's intention was just to kid around. We even mentioned on the advertising that Jesus didn't need to drink a Red Bull to walk on the water. All we did was to suggest that you need to be smart to walk on the water.

According to CONAR, if the latest commercial is deemed offensive, it will have to be banned unless modifications are made.

Update: Withdrawn in South Africa

15th March 2012. From

Red Bull South Africa has pulled its Jesus walks on water television campaign following complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Father Christopher Townsend said religion and faith should never be ridiculed. [Even if it's being ridiculous]: We are used to Red Bull advertising being very cheeky and satirical ...BUT... there is a certain level where it oversteps the mark.


8th March   

Thin Research...

Researchers claim that government censorship is justified to prevent beautiful people appearing in adverts
Link Here

Governments are justified in using the law to prevent modelling agencies from using very skinny women on catwalks and stop magazines from printing adverts and photographs that suggest extreme thinness is attractive, according to research from the London School of Economics.

The first-ever economic analysis of anorexia, studying nearly 3,000 young women in the UK and the rest of Europe, found that the social and cultural environment influences decisions by young women to starve themselves in search of what they perceive to be an ideal body shape.

Anorexia, say the researchers, is a socially transmitted disease and appears to be more common in countries such as France, where women are thinner than the European average. It mostly affects girls and women between the ages of 15 and 34, they found, who were willing to trade off their health against self-image.

LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University say that reducing the mass circulation of pictures of emaciated models and celebrities and restricting adverts in which they feature could lift some of the social pressure women feel to be thin.

Government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders, they write in their paper, to be published in the academic journal Economica later this year.


4th March   

Stereotypically Easily Offended...

Light hearted TV advert set amongst tribal natives gets taken off air in Spain
Link Here

Footballer Pepe Reina got caught up in a nonsense race row in Spain after a television commercial starring the Liverpool goalkeeper was pulled by broadcasters due to its apparent racial and sexual stereotyping.

The 26 second advertisement for the Spanish insurance firm, Groupama, shows Reina in a jungle scene, being greeted by a spear-carrying tribe and their leader.

With Reina's name translated as Queen in Spanish, the tribe leader appears to suggest a sexual relationship with Reina by saying: Me King, you Queen. Reina responds with raised eyebrows, before sarcastically saying: I feel safe, la la la.

The tone of the clip prompted condemnation from campaign group Operation Black Vote, and was subsequently removed from the screens of Spanish television. Simon Woolley, a director of Operation Black Vote, said:

I'm shocked on so many levels. Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid and animalistic homosexuals?

Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina? The Liverpool goalkeeper has lived and worked in the UK for nearly a decade -- does he think it's OK to characterise black people this way? Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke?

Groupama responded:

Groupama Seguros does not consider that this advert contains either offensive or any discriminatory content.


29th February   

Update: Power vs the Powers That Be...

Paddy Power has fun with a YouTube advert clearing chavs from Cheltenham with a tranquiliser gun
Link Here
Full story: Paddy Powers...Bookmakers adverts wind up the easily offended

Controversy baiting bookmakers Paddy Power have released another YouTube video which is causing the intended stir.

Last week the firm's Lady's Day advert for the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival which featured transgender actresses was widely criticised.

TV censors suspended it from being broadcast in the UK and the latest video looks set for an internet only airing.

In the new advert a man is seen loading a tranquiliser dart gun at a horse racing meet. He proceeds to shoot a variety of people not deemed appropriate for the Cheltenham Festival.

A Paddy Power spokesman said:

Shockingly, our last TV Ad has been banned after just four days on TV. That's some kind of record, even for us. This commercial, dubbed 'Chavs', didn't even pass the powers that be so it will never be seen on TV.

One has to suspect that it was never actually shown to the TV 'powers that be'.


27th February   

Update: Excuses Accepted...

South African advert censor clears sexy perfume ads
Link Here

A gentleman's club is relieved that the Advertising Standards Authority SA has dismissed complaints that its billboards advertising a range of fragrances are sexist and objectify women.

Mavericks Revenue Bar, in Cape Town, has launched Alibis fragrances, which, according to its website, are particularly for gentlemen upon leaving the club .

Shane Harrison, owner of Mavericks, said the billboards depicting three women striking poses in different settings had prompted three separate sets of complaints against the club.

But the ASA dismissed all the complaints last week:

Whingers had claimed that the ads were of a sexist nature , objectify women and potentially harmful to children , and to undermine family values.

But Harrison said:

If a consumer sees 'masturbatory implications' when looking at a woman holding a wrench, it is a problem perhaps best addressed in chambers outside those of the ASA.

In November, the ASA found that the model in another advertisement of the series - dressed only in a bra, fishnets, red stilettos and a tie - unduly objectifies the woman .


24th February   

Updated: Stallions, Mares or Geldings?...

Paddy Power bets on controversy
Link Here
Full story: Paddy Powers...Bookmakers adverts wind up the easily offended

Bookmaker Paddy Power has stirred up a controversy with the release of a new TV advert shown on Sky Sports that some trans groups say is offensive.

LGBT Lib Dems Northern Ireland said Paddy Power has brought shame on itself and that the marketing tactic was in poor taste at a time when the UK government is trying to wipe out all forms of prejudice in sport.

The Irish bookmaker is well known for their edgy Television campaigns. Now ahead of the upcoming 2012 Cheltenham Festival, Paddy Power has launched a new advert which focuses on Ladies' Day at the Cheltenham horse racing festival. It is thought that the initial reaction to the ad will lead to another referral to the advertising censors of the ASA.

The advert had been cleared with Clear Cast, a body funded by the broadcasters that checks adverts against ASA rules on their behalf. Paddy Power had also consulted with a leading transgender organisation before putting the ad together. understands that the ASA will be discussing the advert in the coming days as a result of complaints.

In the advert, the commentator references a Facebook post made by a fan, saying they can't wait to see some beauties at Ladies' Day . The Irish firm claim to agree, but make things interesting by sending in some trans ladies . They then ask the viewers to spot the Stallions from the Mares . The tongue in cheek video then shows a number of different ladies, some of whom are women, and some not, obviously added for effect by the producers.

The firm advertised the advert on Cheltenham racing site, with a number of readers who had watched the video expressing their opinions and stating that they had already contacted the ASA.

Update: 500 Complaints

22nd February 2012. See  article from

Broadcasters Channel 4 and BSkyB are planning to continue airing Paddy Power's spot the trans lady advert in the face of fierce criticism.

The advert has been pulled by sports network ESPN but Channel 4 told the Guardian while it had a duty to ensure broadcasts comply with advertising codes, but beyond that it was policy to leave it up to our viewers to make their own judgment about the adverts they have seen .

BSkyB reportedly has no intention of removing the adverts from its broadcasts.

The Guardian reported that nearly 500 complaints had been made to the Advertising Standards Authority and a spokesperson for broadcaster ESPN, which is owned by Disney, said it had reviewed the commercial in question, and have made an internal editorial decision that it will not run on ESPN .

Update: Paddy Power Transgender TV Ad Pulled

24th February 2012. From

Paddy Power's Ladies Day commercial has been pulled from TV.

The decision to suspend the clip wasn't made by us -- it was done by the British TV advertising regulator along with television broadcasters.

This is especially frustrating given the commercial was already pre-approved by British television advertising clearance body Clearcast, just one week ago, who then considered the humour in the advert, while not to everyone's taste, fell short of causing offence.

Additionally, Paddy Power reached out to leading UK transgender group, The Beaumont Society, for feedback on the script.

The Beaumont Society said there was nothing untoward with the advert concept and felt it was not inappropriate since the entire campaign would be a tongue-in-cheek look at the Ladies Day race meeting where these days a large number of cross dressers make a day of it .

Furthermore, Paddy Power cast members of the trans-community in the various transgender roles in the commercial. Given the attention and diligence we demonstrated throughout the development of this commercial, we are very disappointed by today's decision.

Finally it is worth pointing out that the commercial, which went live on YouTube less than one week ago, has almost 250,000 views with more likes than dislikes .

The next commercial in Paddy Power's We Hear You advertising campaign, CHAVS , will be broadcast on the company's YouTube channel shortly.


22nd February   

Update: Bigger Fatter Gypsier...

Channel 4 adverts wind up about 100 complainers
Link Here
Full story: Big Fat Gypsy Wedding...TV winds up the easily offended

Channel 4 adverts for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has prompted about 100 complaints over alleged racism

Channel 4's billboard campaign, which feature the words Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier printed over images of Gypsy girls and children, led to complaints being lodged by the London Gypsy & Traveller Unit and London assembly members Jennette Arnold and John Biggs.

The Advertising Standards Authority said that it has so far received 97 complaints about the ad campaign, with most concerned that it is offensive to Gypsies. Some of the complainants also raised concerns about the use of the word gypsier, which they believe is racist.

A spokesman said that the ASA is currently assessing the complaints to see whether there is grounds for launching an investigation into whether Channel 4 has broken the advertising code.

Christine Cawley, an Irish Traveller who lives in London, criticised Channel 4's ad campaign in a piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free, arguing that the broadcaster seems to be using who we are against us in a way that feels very hard to take .

The London Gypsy & Traveller Unit delivered a letter of complaint to Channel 4 on Tuesday, addressed to the chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, and chief executive, David Abraham, raising concerns over the stereotyping inherent in the campaign.

We wonder if Channel 4 would have been so ready to use the adverts with similarly compromising phrases for other ethnic groups: 'Jewisher' or 'more Asian' or 'blacker', said the unit, which also asked Channel 4 to remove the ad campaign and apologise.

Update: Advertiser Censor

22nd February 2012. See  article from

One of Channel 4's biggest sponsors admitted it was displeased with the broadcaster's controversial Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier campaign for its hit documentary series, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Honda, which sponsors all of Channel 4's documentary output, said that it had informed C4 of our unhappiness with this poster campaign in an email sent to the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain.

The billboard campaign, which features the words Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier over images of Gypsy girls and children has been criticised as offensive and racist and prompted more than 100 complaints to the advertising watchdog.

Honda had also received about 35 complaints from unhappy members of the public. Paul Ormond, Honda UK's general manager, corporate affairs, said:

We have had concerned members of the public ringing us thinking we have some control over editorial content. We have responded by saying we have no control over content but we have made our concerns known to Channel 4 that we are unhappy that we are being linked to this through the tone of the advertising campaign.


20th February   

Retro Sexist...

New Zealand feminist group starts up with a campaign against supposedly sexist beer adverts
Link Here

   Tui brewery girls

The new Auckland group, Feminist Action, has launched a campaign to get Tui to withdraw supposedly sexist beer ads featuring its all-female brewery.

The Tui brewery ads feature women in skimpy clothes and sexy poses, who are relentlessly depicted as more stupid than the dorky group of men who try to infiltrate the brewery.

Feminist Action spokeswoman Leonie Morris claimed:

These ads are retro-sexist. They mimic tired old sexist attitudes in an ironic way. They are funny only to people who are happy to laugh at put-downs of women.

The ads say that men should judge women just on how they look, that women are stupid and that it's okay to laugh at them.

Demeaning women in these ads is harmful whether the ads are funny or not. Valuing women only for how they look has a corrosive effect on women's sense of self-worth. Men who demean women like this are more likely to be violent to them, and we have a huge problem with violence against women in New Zealand.

The campaign will use Facebook, an online petition and other social media to gain support and put pressure on Tui owner, DB Breweries, to drop the ads.

Auckland Feminist Action is a new group acting on what it sees as persistent inequalities between women and men in New Zealand.


18th February   

Updated: Politically Correct Censor Objects...

ASA censure double glazing advert ludicrously claiming 'serious' offence
Link Here

A regional press ad and a mobile poster ad for a glazing company:

a. The regional press ad was headlined Others Measure - We Fit and featured a photograph of a naked woman seen behind a window, shown from the neck to the waist. The woman's breasts were mostly covered by two large flowers.

b. A poster ad, seen on a mobile poster site situated in various locations including a field next to a main road was headlined Other Measure - We Fit . The ad featured a photograph of a naked woman seen behind a window, shown from the neck to the waist. The woman's breasts were mostly covered by two large flowers. Text underneath the image stated Massive deals! .

A complainant challenged whether:

1. press ad (a) was offensive because they believed the image objectified woman; and

2. poster ad (b) was offensive for the same reason.

The ASA challenged whether:

3. poster ad (b) was irresponsible because it could be seen by children.

1st Choice Glazing believed that the press and poster image did not objectify women and stated that they had been tastefully shot in order to ensure decency. They stated that the image was no more revealing than others that appeared in some ads for cars or drinks and believed that the tongue-in-cheek image was unlikely to cause offence. They agreed that children might have seen the poster but stated that they were exposed to far more explicit images whilst watching popular programmes set on beaches, or during pop star videos and TV shows.

Smartlocal stated that the image had been widely used in the advertising campaigns for a number of years and that to date they had not received any complaints from their 120,000 readers.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted the woman's breasts were partly covered by the flowers and that the image was not presented in an overtly sexual way. However, we also noted the woman's head was not included in the image and considered that consumers would understand from the ad that they were being invited to view her naked torso and, in particular, her breasts. We considered that, because the product being advertised was unrelated to the image, the nakedness was incongruous and the image was likely to be seen to be an objectification of the woman in the ads and therefore of women in general.

We further considered that the text Others Measure - We Fit and Massive deals! in conjunction with the images were likely to be seen as innuendo and contribute to that impression. We therefore concluded that ads (a) and (b) were likely to cause serious offence. We also concluded that ad (b) was irresponsible because it could be seen by children.

On these points ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code 4.1 (Harm and offence). Ad (b) also breached CAP Code rule 3.1 (Social responsibility).

Update: Capitalising on ASA Censorship

18th February 2012. From

A double glazing boss, whose advertising campaign was banned after it was deemed supposedly offensive to women, has launched a new billboard featuring a picture of a half-naked man.

Owner of 1st Choice Glazing in West Lothian, Derrick Findlay, was recently ordered by the easily offended advert censors of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to remove adverts from Boghall Roundabout and the M8 motorway. These featured an image of a naked woman behind a window with flowers covering her breasts.

Derrick was left deeply disappointed with the ruling, which followed just one complaint in nearly two years. [A frequency of complaints the ASA define as 'serious offence'. If the advert had received one more complaint it would have surely moved up into the 'widespread offence' category].

Now he and his team have come up with a new design which uses an image of a half-naked male model behind the glass -- accompanied by the slogan fantastic packages available!

Derrick enthused:

We have had some fantastic responses already. People can't believe that one complaint brought the original adverts down. We just thought we should do the same thing again but with a man. Everyone walking into the shop has been talking about it and has said it's great.


17th February   

Update: Modern Day Popeyes Get Super Virile on Spinach...

Peta adverts do a grand wind up job with wives enjoying getting knocked about by their super virile vegan partners
Link Here
Full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

PETA's ongoing shock tactics have landed them in hot water with women's rights campaigners. Their latest campaign features the message that violent sex is good sex.

The ad is a spoof of a PSA about a fictional syndrome called WVAKTBOOM, or, Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me... a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go Vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star.

The advert shows a woman wearing a neck brace trudging painfully back from shops. Under her parka coat she appears to have forgotten her skirt.

Back at home her sprightly (newly vegan ) boyfriend, wearing only his tighty whiteys , is fixing a hole in the wall, another casualty of last night's sextravaganza, a flashback hints.

Critics have been quick to accuse PETA of joking about domestic violence or implying that good sex should be rough enough to warrant medical care. The Daily Mail cited a few example forum posts form Mumsnet.

Columnist Sunny Hundal chipped in that Peta's new ad campaign is absolutely atrocious. Before kindly providing links to two more in the series whilst proclaiming: WTF were they thinking?

Tory Shepherd (From ) was a little more forthright:

This is just a nasty, puerile piece of work. Not because of the sex. Talking up the virility of a man who has forsworn all animal products is not a bad way to counteract the general impression of vegans as anaemic, pale weaklings.

But domestic violence? Really? Don’t chortle and say it’s “tongue in cheek” and “playful” and point out the chick’s “mischievous smile” as though really, she was asking for it. She’s wearing a neck brace, and you’re merrily jesting about needing protective equipment.

It will be interesting what the advert censors at the ASA make of it. They will no doubt require a little verification that a spinach diet sends men super insatiable.


14th February   

Cumming to the Attention of the Censors...

Poster for nightclub reported to the advert censors
Link Here

An investigation has been launched into a suggestive ad campaign for a Manhattan's nightclub in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received a formal complaint and said the complainant had objected that the ad, which includes an image of a woman whose facial expression is suggestive of sexual activity, is offensive .

The club's owner, Andy Lieshman, said it was never meant to be offensive. He added: It wasn't meant to offend anybody at all. It was just all in the aim of good fun. There was really no seediness behind it. The bar has now removed the poster from outside its premises and made changes to the advert on its Facebook page.

The ASA said it was only able to investigate promotional materials on the club's website as its remit does not extend to anything displayed on companies' or organisations' own property.


7th February   

Which is Safer, a Dangerous Dog, or an Enraged Dangerous Dog Owner?...

MacDonald's hastily withdraw advert featuring a pit bull terrier
Link Here

McDonald's has apologized and pulled a radio advert from airing in Kansas City.

The ad said eating a Chicken McBite was less risky than petting a stray pit bull, shaving your head, naming your son Sue or giving friends your Facebook password.

Easily enraged pit bull owners and their supporters soon started complaining. A campaign against the ad circulated on social media sites, and an apology was quickly delivered in the same way.

Ashlee Yingling, spokesman for McDonald's Corp said"

The ad was insensitive in its mention of pit bulls. We apologize. As soon as we learned of it, we tracked the source and had the local markets pull the ad immediately. We'll do a better job next time. It's never our intent to offend anyone with how we communicate news about McDonald's.

Rachele Lizarraga, who owns a pet-sitting business and is social media coordinator for Chako Pit Bull Rescue, started a Facebook page called Pit Bulls Against McDonald's . She launched an online petition calling for an end to the ad and started one of many Twitter threads.

And as to whether Pit Bulls are dangerous.

See article from

A pit bull is any of several breeds of dog. The name can refer to almost any short-haired, muscular, and aggressive-looking dog. These dogs are often cross-bred to produce winning fighters. The American Pit Bull Terrier is considered to be the strongest dog in the world.

For a century prior to the 1970s, pit bulls were revered in America as a symbol of strength and independence. But because of their particular traits, the dogs have been mistreated and poorly bred for criminal purposes like dog-fighting and for the protection of drug trafficking operations. This mistreatment, cross-breeding, and training for aggressive behavior have led to many incidents between these animals and people.

And Topically

See  article from

Leslie Trotman, 83, died from a ruptured spleen after a neighbour's pitbull-type dog attacked him in his garden, Scotland Yard says


6th February   

Best Whingers in Europe...

ASA report upsurge of complaints about advertising
Link Here

Guy Parker, the chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has highlighted a 40%rise in complaints to the advert censor. He said in excess of 20,000 campaigns provoked complaints to the ASA in 2011.

Parker said the UK was now responsible for more complaints over advertising than the rest of Europe put together:

They say that British people don't complain. They don't complain face-to-face... but they don't mind complaining remotely. Now far more than half of all the complaints made to advertising regulatory bodies in all 27 EU member states are made by the UK public to us, it's 60-65 per cent.

Parker, giving evidence to Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media standards, said that it was not in the interest of British business for there to be mistrust in advertising:

Trust in advertising has been declining for a number of years and this is not good news. [If] people trust individual ads less...then companies' advertising spend is going to be less effective.

The surge in the ASA's workload in the past year has been due partly to an extension of the censor's remit on 1 March to include claims made on company websites. The ASA workload rose by 44%in the following seven months, and 36% of the cases related to websites. The ASA has taken on a dozen extra frontline staff to cope with the added complaints.


6th February   

Update: i Spy Internet Snooping...

European Advertising Standards Alliance define new rules to inform web surfers that adverts they see are determined via snooping
Link Here
Full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

When new rules governing the way companies collect and use data about our movements online come into force, a little i symbol will appear on screen to reveal adverts generated by cookies . Many internet users find these digital devices, which are used by websites to create personal profiles based on use of the Internet, intrusive.

The data is used for Online Behavioural Advertising, allowing companies to direct their display adverts at individuals who, through the websites they have visited, have indicated an interest in certain goods or services.

The warning system, to be introduced by the European Advertising Standards Alliance and the Internet Advertising Bureau of Europe, will allow users to opt out of all Online Behavioural Advertising.

Similar measures introduced in the US had shown that users were often reassured about the use of cookies and chose to redefine their advertising profiles so they more accurately reflected their interests. Some web names, like Yahoo!, have already begun using the triangle icon on a voluntary basis in Britain but from June all ad networks will be required to display the symbol or face sanctions.


3rd February   

Update: Wounding Religion...

ASA censure of bollox claims about healing by prayer causes offence to religious group
Link Here
Full story: Censors vs Religious Healing...Censors unimpressed by claims of religious healing

A website and a leaflet, for Healing on the Streets - Bath, viewed on 10 May 2011:

a. The website home page stated Our vision is to :- Promote Christian Healing as a daily life style for every believer, through demonstration, training and equipping. We are working in unity, from numerous churches outside the four walls of the building, In order to :- - Heal the sick ... .

A page headed What people have told us afterwards ... included five testimonials in which people stated that after receiving prayer their conditions had been improved.

b. The leaflet was available for download on the website under the heading Download a healing flyer by clicking below . The leaflet stated NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction ... Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness? We'd love to pray for your healing right now! We're Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness . Issue

A complainant challenged whether:

  1. the claim in ad (b) that the advertiser could heal the named conditions was misleading and could be substantiated;

  2. the testimonials in ad (a) misleadingly implied that the advertiser could heal the conditions referred to; and

  3. the ads were irresponsible, because they provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions.

  4. The ASA challenged whether the ads could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

1., 2. & 3. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged that HOTS sought to promote their faith and the hope for physical healing by God through the claims in their ads. However, we were concerned that the prominent references in ad (b) to healing and the statement You have nothing to lose, except your sickness in combination with the references to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought such as arthritis, asthma, MS, addictions, depression and paralysis, could give consumers the expectation that, by receiving prayer from HOTS volunteers, they would be healed of the conditions listed or other sicknesses from which they suffered. We also considered that the testimonials in ad (a) could also give consumers that expectation, and furthermore, noted that a video on the website also made claims that HOTS volunteers had successfully prayed for healing for people with cancer, fibromyalgia, back pain, kidney pain, hip pain, cataracts, arthritis and paralysis. We noted the testimonials on the website and in the video but considered that testimonials were insufficient as evidence for claims of healing. We therefore concluded the ads were misleading.

We acknowledged that HOTS volunteers believed that prayer could treat illness and medical conditions, and that therefore the ads did not promote false hope. However, we noted we had not seen evidence that people had been healed through the prayer of HOTS volunteers, and concluded that the ads could encourage false hope in those suffering from the named conditions and therefore were irresponsible.

We acknowledged that HOTS had offered to make amendments to the ads, and to remove the leaflet from their website. However, we considered that their suggested amendments were not sufficient for the ads to comply with the CAP Code.

On these points, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 3.1 and 3.6 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.47 (Endorsements and testimonials), 12.1 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

4. Upheld

We understood that HOTS volunteers were instructed to give a letter to the recipients of prayer which told them they should not stop taking their medication or following the advice of medical professionals. We also noted their offer to add a prominent reference along the lines of that letter to their website. However, we considered that, because both the leaflet and the website made claims that through the prayer offered by HOTS volunteers people could be healed of specific medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought such as arthritis, asthma, MS, addictions, depression and paralysis, the ads could discourage people, and particularly the vulnerable or those suffering from undiagnosed symptoms, from seeking essential treatment for medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We concluded the ad breached the Code.

On this point, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products). Action

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

HOTS Bath official response


We are disappointed with the ASA's decision, and will appeal against it because it seems very odd to us that the ASA wants to prevent us from stating on our website the basic Christian belief that God can heal illness.

The ASA has even demanded that we sign a document agreeing not to say this, which is unacceptable to us - as it no doubt would be for anyone ordered not to make certain statements about their conventional religious or philosophical beliefs.

All over the world as part of their normal Christian life, Christians believe in, pray for and experience God's healing; our ministry, in common with many churches, has been active in praying for God's healing (of Christians and non Christians) for many years.

Over that time the response to what we do has been overwhelmingly positive, and we find it difficult to understand the ASA's attempt to restrict communication about this. Our website simply states our beliefs and describes some of our experiences.

We tried to reach a compromise, recognising some of the ASA's concerns, but there are certain things that we cannot agree to -- including a ban on expressing our beliefs.


3rd February   

Les Miserables...

Film poster for Les Infideles offends the easily offended in Paris
Link Here

Film posters for a new French film, Les Infideles, about adultery have been taken down in Paris because they are supposedly too provocative.

The adverts show Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche implying sexual positions which campaigners have claimed degrade women.

On poster showing a girl with her head at the groin of a guy on a phone is captioned It's going to cut out, I'm just entering a tunnel

In the other advert a woman's legs are in the air and are being held by Dujardin. It says underneath I'm just going into a meeting .

ARPP, the French advert censor, has ordered that the billboards be taken down. Stephane Martin, who works for the censor, told French newspaper Le Parisien:

We already feel that this campaign is against the rules, even if it relates to the subject of the film, a comedy about adultery.As a preventative measure, we've already counseled JC Decaux, who are in charge of the billboards, to take them down.


26th January   

Fifty Years of Easy Offence...

ASA celebrate 50 years of censoring adverts with a new logo
Link Here

ASA has unveiled a new logo following a rebrand to coincide with the start of a year in which it celebrates 50 years of what it likes to consider as keeping UK advertising legal, decent, honest and truthful.

The ASA was established on 24 September 1962 to regulate non-broadcast advertising. Since then the remit has been extended to TV + radio ads and more recently to cover online ads.

The ASA will be marking this milestone through a variety of activities over the next 12 months.


25th January   

Balls Out Bawled Out...

ASA whinge at poster for Steel Panther album
Link Here

A poster promoting an album by a rock band, seen in October 2011, showed an image of a woman leaning back with her eyes closed. She was shown wearing a skimpy halter-neck outfit which covered her nipples but left her stomach and the bottom of her breasts uncovered. Her right hand was placed by her crotch and she was holding a string with two silver balls attached, which dangled between her legs. The band's name appeared in the middle of the image and beneath it, large text stated BALLS OUT .

Underneath, the ad showed an image of the four members of the band and text which stated THE NEW ALBUM UNLEASHED FOR HALLOWEEN... Issue

Imkaan, a charity devoted to raising awareness and offering support to women from ethnic backgrounds who were victims of abuse and violence, and four members of the public challenged whether the ad was:

  1. offensive, because they considered the image of the woman was demeaning and overtly sexual in its nature.

  2. Imkaan and three of the members of the public also challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for public display where it might be seen by children.

Universal Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Ltd said that the poster depicted the album cover for the rock band, Steel Panther who were a pastiche of an 80s heavy metal band who took their inspiration from bands such as Whitesnake and Bon Jovi. The band's stage performance and persona were very tongue in cheek, nothing about them was serious and their concept was a send-up of the typical 80s band, although their music was new and original. They said the poster was designed to have a retro 80s look which was not done seriously and poked fun at the ridiculousness of the attitude to women, outfits and music in that era. The poster was meant to be ludicrously over the top and not meant to undermine women.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was not meant to cause offence or be seen as demeaning to women. However, we considered that the main image on the poster was overtly sexual. We noted that the pose of the woman showed her with her legs apart, her hand between her legs and her breasts partially exposed and considered that her facial expression was suggestive of an orgasm and sexual activity. In addition to this, we considered that the album title Balls Out was sexually suggestive particularly when viewed in the context of the poster, where the woman was seen dangling two silver balls between her legs in a way that we considered was suggestive of male genitalia.

We noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was meant to be viewed humorously and not to be taken seriously as it was meant to represent the over-the-top image of the band featured in the poster. However, we considered that most people would not view the poster in this way and even if they had viewed it in that context, the poster was overtly sexual when taken as a whole. Given its placement in a range of public locations, we concluded that it was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, was unsuitable to be seen by children and therefore was not appropriate for outdoor advertising.

The poster breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).


21st January   

Unduly Masculine Themes Unbanned...

New Zealand campaigners whinge at relaxation of censorship rules for beer adverts
Link Here

A women's campaign group has struck out at a change in advertising codes it claims will lead to more sexist beer commercials on television.

The director of the Women's Health Action Trust said the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority had cut guidelines which prevented alcohol adverts from depicting unduly masculine themes or portray unrealistic behaviour .

Director of Women's Health Action Trust, Maree Pierce, said they were stunned the ASA would chose to weaken its rules at a time when New Zealand communities:

have made such a strong call for more rigorous control of alcohol advertising and its content.

Plenty of evidence has shown how beer advertising, both in New Zealand and abroad, draws heavily on stereotypical masculine themes and routinely portrays sexist, derogatory and degrading behaviour by men, towards women, as part of beer drinking culture and lifestyle.

But the Advertising Standards Agency said a flood of alcohol advertisements which were derogatory towards women was very unlikely. Following a review late last year of the Code for Advertising Liquor, the ASA removed the requirement that alcohol advertisements shall not depict unduly masculine themes or portray unrealistic behaviour .


19th January   

The Easily Offended will Just have to Stay Offended...

ASA turns down claim of religious offence by bus advert for underwear
Link Here

A poster advertising lingerie, seen on the side of buses in early November 2011, stated Introducing Naked Glamour Calvin Klein Underwear and featured five images of a model wearing a bra and briefs.

The complainant, an Orthodox Cherdi Jew, objected that:

  1. the ad was offensive to the large Orthodox Jewish population of Stamford Hill, whose religious beliefs required them not to see images of women wearing only underwear;

  2. it was irresponsible to display the ad in untargeted media in public as it would be seen by children.

Calvin Klein said they did not believe that the ad was offensive or socially irresponsible. They said the ad merely featured the product, their underwear range, being worn by a model. They believed it was reasonable to feature models wearing underwear when advertising these products, and that the ad was neither sexually suggestive nor overtly sexual. They also said their media vendor had not believed that the ad fell into the risky category, and had been happy for the ad campaign to proceed.

ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that there was no explicit nudity in the images, and that the ad was for an underwear range. We considered that the nature of the product meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous or offensive, and noted that the poses of the model were natural. We considered that the ad might be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was featured. However, although we recognised that some people with strongly held religious views may find the ad distasteful, we did not consider that the ad was likely to cause widespread offence or serious offence to those with religious views.

On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.

2. Not upheld

We noted the complainant's concerns that this ad, displayed on buses, was likely to be seen by children. We considered that the ad may be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was featured. However, we did not consider that the images were overtly sexual, and considered that the ad was acceptable for use in outdoor media likely to be seen by children. We therefore concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible.

On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code  rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) but did not find it in breach.


18th January   

ASA's Brains Have Been Abducted...

ASA ludicrously demands that served internet adverts accurately adhere to impractical age restrictions on both the advert and the context where it is served
Link Here

An internet video ad, for the 12A rated film Abduction , was viewed on YouTube on 15 September 2011. It appeared before an animated clip called The Duck Song and included action sequences that involved shooting, vehicle chases, punching, a couple kissing and a man who kicked his way through a glass window. The voice-over stated, An assassin wants him dead ... , which also appeared in text on screen.

A complainant, whose two-year-old saw the ad, challenged whether it was irresponsible, because she believed it was inappropriate to be shown during a video that was addressed to children.

Lions Gate UK Ltd (Lions Gate) said the film Abduction was rated 12A. They said they expected viewers of YouTube to be aged 13 years or over and that YouTube had accepted the online ad and scheduled its appearances. They said the TV version of the ad had been cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction and the online version was substantially the same. Lions Gate said they worked hard to avoid causing offence or distress to viewers.

YouTube said they were not able to verify whether the ad had appeared before The Duck Song clip. They said it must have appeared on a YouTube partner page, however, because those were the only pages on which advertising could appear. They said if content on partner pages was flagged as being suitable only for adult users, no ads would appear. YouTube said their terms of service meant that viewers must be aged 13 or over and stated If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service. There are lots of other great websites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you . They said if viewers aged under-13 viewed the site regardless, there was a risk they would see content or ads that were not suited to children under the age of 13. They said the exact ads they saw would depend on a number of factors, including whether the parent had signed into their YouTube account before viewing, whether they had enabled safe search on their account and what targeting methods the advertiser had used when they placed their ad.

They said there were other methods of targeting for advertisers who wanted their ads to reach as many consumers as possible; for example a banner ad at the top of the homepage or First Watch ads, which allowed advertisers to run an ad so it was seen only once by a user visiting a YouTube partner page on any given day. Those ads could appear on any partner page. However, all advertisers were contractually obliged to make sure the ads were family safe and complied with all terms and conditions and YouTube ad policies, including, for First Watch ads, the more restrictive policy that was specific to the home page. YouTube double-checked compliance with the home page policy before accepting ads via First Watch. They said the Lions Gate ad was placed via First Watch and therefore it could appear to any YouTube user, regardless of whether or not they had logged in. They said they considered the ad to be family safe because although the scenes were cut quickly and much of the filming was dark and suggestive, there was no explicit violence, no blood or scenes of death, no shooting victims (only sounds of shots fired) and no adult language or explicit sexual content.

They said the website was merely a platform and they were not responsible for the content of videos or ads that might appear. It was for advertisers to ensure their ads were targeted appropriately, and partners who did not want ads, including First Watch ads, to appear against content they uploaded did not have to do so. They said they were always willing to listen to comments and suggestions from their users, who could report ads they felt violated their community guidelines or ad policies.

ASA Decision: Complaint Upheld

The ASA noted the ad reflected the content of an action film. We considered, however, it included some scenes, in particular those of shooting, explosions and punching, that were unsuitable for younger children. We noted that in order to create a YouTube account, users were required to confirm that they were at least 13 years old. We also noted, however, material on the site could be viewed without logging in and therefore it was not possible to prevent under-13-year-olds from viewing material. We noted that users could also be unaware of that policy. We also noted that information YouTube provided indicated to potential advertisers that, based on US figures from 2010, they understood seven per cent of unique visitors to be aged two to eleven and a further nine per cent to be aged 12 to 17, with those audiences described as having 39% and 61% Reach of Online Universe respectively. We acknowledged that data was relevant to a different market but considered it nevertheless indicated that children were likely to view footage, and therefore ads, on YouTube. We noted YouTube offered advertisers the option of age-gating their marketing material, whereby the ad was targeted via the date of birth registration held for users; only users who were logged in and met the relevant age criteria would see such an ad. We considered the The Duck Song clip during which the ad appeared, was likely to appeal to children and noted the ad was served in such a way that it could be viewed by all YouTube users, even if they had not logged in. Because it included scenes that were unsuitable for younger children and it could be viewed by all YouTube users, we considered the ad was inappropriately targeted. We therefore concluded that it breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 5.1 (Children). Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Lions Gate to ensure that future marketing communications addressed to, targeted directly at or featuring children contained nothing that was likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm.


18th January   

Brainless Censorship...

South African advert censor bans empty headed church jibe at atheists
Link Here

A church advertising campaign that depicted atheists as empty headed has been banned by South Africa's advert censor.

South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority ruled that a billboard that suggested non-believers considered their existence to be accidental was likely to be found offensive.

The offending poster showed a picture of a man holding his hands against his temples in thought above the line An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident , famously attributed to British poet Francis Thompson. It was erected last year in a prominent position on the property of the Rivers Church in Johannesburg.

However, the ASA noted that it was obliged to consider the advertisement's content after it received a complaint from a non-Christian member of the public. The ASA wrote:

The church submitted that the advertisement is based on Psalm 14v and Psalm 53v1, which say "only foolish say in their hearts there is no God".

It is apparent that the proverbial line is drawn when advertising propagates statements that undermine the dignity and constitutionally protected right to freedom of religious beliefs of any identifiable sector of society.

The visuals of a man holding the sides of his empty head suggest that atheists are 'empty-headed or lack intelligence, presumably as a result of the above belief communicated.

This is something that would likely offend all atheists in a manner that the Code seeks to prevent.

The church was ordered to pull down the advert immediately and was banned from using the material again.


14th January   

Update: High Priests of PC...

Advert censor explains why ASA is so easily offended by minor joviality about religion
Link Here
Full story: Antonio Federici Ice Cream...Ice cream adverts wind up the nutters

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint from the National Secular Society which had accused the ASA of unreasonably restricting freedom of expression by banning advertisements too readily if they risk offending even a few believers.

In a long justification of its enforcement of the Code of Advertising Practice, the wording of which the NSS also attacked, James Best, chairman of the CAP, refused to accept any of the NSS's points about its banning of ads that poke even mild fun at religion.

The complaint arose from the banning of a series of advertisements from the ice cream company Antonio Federici, which, in the ASA's word were offensive, because they believed they mocked Catholicism .

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said:

When the adverts were banned, the NSS said that the ASA was introducing a new sort of blasphemy law through the back door. This response from the ASA gives us no reason to change that opinion. When did it become illegal to satirise Catholicism?

We have become increasingly concerned about an unreasonable deference to religion by the ASA. We were particularly irked by the banning of the ice cream ads, one of which (in the ASA's own words) showed two priests in full robes who looked as though they were about to kiss. One of the men also wore rosary beads and held a spoon in his hand; the other held a tub of ice cream. The ad included text that stated We Believe in Salivation.

The advertisements were ruled by the Authority to have breached the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the number of complainants is often pitifully small, just six in the case of the priests and ice cream ad.

The Code of Advertising Practice includes the ruling that ads:

should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.

The NSS complained last year to the ASA, and a high level meeting was arranged between the ASA's chair, Lord Smith of Finsbury (supported by senior executives), and Keith Porteous Wood and NSS senior campaigns officer, Tessa Kendall.

Wood said:

We emphasised the importance of freedom of expression and pointed out that one of their adjudications had recently been overruled by the courts on grounds of freedom of expression. Ironically, the case had been brought by a fundamentalist church, in respect of the banning of its advert criticising Gay Pride parade inBelfast. The ad was headlined 'The word of God against sodomy' and invited those who opposed the parade to meet peacefully.

The NSS is now considering its next step.


13th January   

Nutter Objects Thwarted...

South African advert censor dismisses complaints about Playboy billboard
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South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Tracy McGregor billboard in Johannesburg was harmless.

The advert censor dismissed complaints that the billboard depicted women as objects for sexual gratification , degrades the dignity of women and encourages sexual promiscuity .

Tracy McGregor, the 2008 FHM Sexiest Women winner, is shown on the billboard wearing black stilettos and black lace underwear, with one arm over her head. Next to her are the words: Playboy Playmate Parties and the Playboy SA website address is given below.

But a handful of motorists and residents were less than titillated. One said that the billboard promotes pornography and that he was uncomfortable having to explain such images to his young nieces and nephews.

In its response, Playboy SA said the magazine carried far tamer content than some magazines on local shelves, and suggested that those who were offended should focus on the message detergent adverts sent to society about women.

And it seems the advertising body agreed, saying in its ruling that Playboy had chosen not to gratuitously depict a lustful, sexual image . The billboard is not overtly sexual and imagery of a seductively dressed woman is a product relevant to the advertiser.


6th January   

Update: Miserably Spirited ASA...

Advert censor whinges at flyer for Tequila nightclub event
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A circular for a club night at Riverside in Newcastle, delivered as a door drop in October 2011, featured an image of a woman crouching in front of a man with her buttocks on display from beneath her dress. Foam spurted from the man's crotch. Text stated every Wednesday TEQUILA come and swallow . A cartoon image of a mouth appeared in the top-left corner with the slogan dedicated to oral pleasure . The reverse of the circular featured the same image and additional text about the club night. A review stated A spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery . Other text stated Tequilas [sic] coming to Newcastle ... will you swallow? ... we are here for your pleasure and your pleasure alone ... Tequila is where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place! What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university. Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced . Issue

1. A complainant challenged whether the circular was offensive and unsuitable for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.

The ASA challenged whether the circular:

2. condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol; and

3. linked alcohol with sexual activity.

Stage One Events Inc. (Stage One Events) apologised that the circular had caused offence in the local community. They said that it had been put through doors in the local area over one weekend as part of a campaign to launch a new student event in a very diluted market. It was felt that this would help the business and would offer a new event to the students of Newcastle and add to the social life of those attending university in the city, whilst also creating jobs in a stagnant market.

ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld

1. Upheld

We noted Stage One Events' argument that they created the circular to launch a new business in the area. We considered, however, that the image on the circular was sexually explicit and noted that claims on the circular come and swallow and dedicated to oral pleasure were clearly intended as sexual innuendo. We considered the text on the reverse of the circular which promised the hottest and sexiest experiences and ended with the claim Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced were sexually suggestive. We concluded therefore that the circular was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was not appropriate for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.

On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).

2. Upheld

We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications to contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, including excessive drinking. We considered however that there was a clear inference that excessive drinking was acceptable and condoned from anyone attending the event advertised in the circular. Aside from the fact that the event was called Tequila , named after a well-known high-strength spirit, we noted that the circular included an apparent quote from a newspaper which described the event as a spirit-fuelled den the inclusion of which we considered took a celebratory tone which highlighted the fact alcohol consumption was condoned. We also considered that the claim What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university encouraged the excessive consumption of alcohol to the point where guests would be so drunk that they could not recall what they had done during the previous evening. Because of a clear association with alcohol and excessive drinking, we considered that the circular condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rule 18.1 (Alcohol).

3. Upheld

We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications not to link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success. We considered that the image on the front of the circular was sexually explicit and the accompanying text will you swallow , come and swallow and dedicated to oral pleasure was sexually suggestive. We further considered that the claims on the reverse of the circular Tequila is where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place and Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced had sexual connotations. Because these claims and the image appeared in the circular which advertised an event which was heavily linked to alcohol consumption, gave details of drinks prices and was called Tequila , we considered that there was a link to sexual activity, and the circular gave out the message that drinking alcohol was preliminary to sex or made sexual activity very likely. We also considered that the newspaper quote a spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery condoned reckless and irresponsible sexual behaviour and alcohol consumption. Because of this, we concluded that the circular was irresponsible.

On this point, the circular breached CAP Code rule 18.5 (Alcohol).


5th January   

Updated: Calls for Sanitised Sanitary Advertising...

Transgender groups offended by Australian TV ad for tampons
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A Libra tampon commercial featuring a trans woman has been labelled transphobic by implying that transgender women are not real women.

The advertisement depicts a blonde woman and an obviously trans woman competitively applying make up and arranging their clothes while in a nightclub bathroom.

The blonde woman then takes a Libra tampon out of her bag which causes the trans woman to storm out of the bathroom.

Sally Goldner of Transgender Victoria told Gay News Network:

It's just an incredibly thoughtless ad. It is pretty clear that it is implied that a transgender woman is not a real woman.

It raises questions to me how the company making the product, the ad company and standards board could allow it to go to air.

I think this really highlights the lack of teeth that groups like the ACMA and the press council have in these areas of respect where vilification happens but there needs to be more respect. It's not just transgender people who are affected.

Goldner added that suggestions have been made calling for an apology and for Libra to do something to support the trans community: Some people have suggested they should fund some positive message about transgender people and really show that they are concerned.

UK transgender activist Jane Fae commented:

It is unfortunate, in this day and age, that some companies still consider that a good way to sell their products is by picking on a minority and making fun. As society has grown up, with the offense given by many everyday jokes better understood – and in many cases also made specifically unlawful through equalities legislation – the range of minorities left for advertisers to pick on has grown ever more eccentric.

Update: Campaign on Hold

5th January 2012. See  article from by Jane Fae

Following worldwide outrage, an ad campaign for Libra feminine hygiene products, which had been circulating in Australia and New Zealand, has now been put on hold.

A spokeswoman for Libra product, which is the leading brand of feminine hygiene product in the Australasia region, said today that they were completely taken by surprise by the strength and ferocity of the reaction. They had tested the ad and achieved a positive reaction from their core audience. She said:

It was never our intention to hurt or to offend. The ad was intended as a piece of humour designed to promote a positive image of women.

We were shocked by the reaction from the trans community -- although now that we have had a chance to reflect on comments made, we can understand better their perspective.

We are aware that trans women make use of feminine hygiene products.

She went on. It is the summer holiday period in Australia now, which means many of the marketing team are not available.

However, we will be putting this campaign on hold -- and when the marketing team are back next week, we will be re-evaluating this campaign. It is very unlikely that it will ever air again in its present format.


1st January   

Update: Complaints Coming...

Beer advert winds up Family First New Zealand
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Full story: Family First...New Zealand TV nutters

A Tui beer advert in the yeah right series of billboards has wound up New Zealand nutters.

The billboard reads Santa only comes once a year. Yeah right .

It has 'offended' Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First New Zealand, who has slammed it as tacky and adult humour .

McCoskrie said the billboard showed a lack of Christmas cheer from Tui and would prompt questions from innocent children. The sexual innuendo of the billboard was adult humour which parents would prefer not to have to explain to children who ask . He continued:

The 'Yeah right' billboards are well known for making people smile. We'd just ask that they do it without embarrassing parents with awkward questions from kids. Keep adult humour to an adult audience - although many adults would be offended by the sign as well.

We'd encourage families to show their disapproval by boycotting the company products.

Family First is considering laying a complaint about the billboard with the Advertising Standards Authority, but does not expect a ruling in its favour:

By the time they even consider it, the sign will be gone and the damage done. That's why we want a pre-vetting system with community and family representation on the board.

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