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2012: Oct-Dec

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Ever Wonder Why?...

Religious adverts for a free English language version of the Quran banned at London rail stations

Link Here20th December 2012

Network Rail has a contract with JCDecaux for advertising on the interiors of its railway stations.

In the UK, an organisation called the Quran Project planned to place posters in five major London Railway Stations - Waterloo, Victoria, Liverpool St, Marylebone and St Pancras International during 10 - 24 December 2012.

The chairman of project Dr Wleed Haq said that the billboard campaign was designed to tackle the causes of Islamophobia in the UK by distributing 1,000 free copies of the English translation of the Quran to non-Muslims. To date, the charity has distributed 50,000 copies since its formation two years ago.

The London railway posters went up at different times between Mon - Thurs last week. The campaign had been six months in the planning and the sites were reserved by JCDecaux who had approved the campaign, at a cost of 30,000, two thirds of which was raised online with JustGiving, a popular crowd funding platform.

On Monday, 17 December, these billboards advertising free Qurans, were taken down. An email from JCDecaux explained that the rail companies found the adverts to be unacceptable and so had been taken down.

Both JCDecaux and Network Rail have allowed similar campaigns for other religious groups over the last two years, in particular The Trinitarian Bible Society and the Alpha Course, who have advertised widely including at Marylebone station (operated by Chiltern Railways).

Commentator Mohammed Ansar said in the Huffington Post:

This in itself must raise questions about how we go about tackling pandemic Islamophobia, if policies and those who police them are not only beyond reproach but advocates of such prejudice. In the end we have the irony that an anti-Islamophobia campaign has been entirely derailed by precisely the potentially discriminatory policies of Network Rail, JCDecaux and the railway companies, which they are attempting to challenge in the first place.

The Quran Project has since tweeted that the ads have now been restored, with the exception of Marylebone station where Chiltern Railways claim that they operate a blanket ban on all religious advertising.



Christmas for Grown Ups...

Advert censor receives 4 complaints about Ann Summers TV ad

Link Here18th December 2012

Ann Summers is facing a potential investigation by the UK's advert censors, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after claims that its latest TV ad is too sexual .

Four whingers have kindly complained to the ASA so generating good publicity for Ann Summers from articles such as this.

The ad, which aired for the first time last week during a live episode of the Only Way is Essex , is part of the sex toys retailer's Christmas For Grown Ups campaign.

The advert has a 9pm variant and an 11pm variant. It depicts a plushly decorated Christmas dinner setting only lacking diners. They are soon shown enjoying fireside fun of the sexy kind.

A spokesperson for Ann Summers says:

We have not been made aware of any complaints following the airing of our Christmas advert throughout the last week. Our current advertising campaign was designed in the spirit of Christmas For Grown Ups, and as a responsible retailer we have worked in conjunction with the approving body and the advert has only been aired after the watershed.



ASA Sour Pusses...

Pontificating about a Sourz drinks advert supposedly appealing to kids

Link Here12th December 2012

A blog entry titled RASPBERRY HEAT WAVE stated Colour blocking is the hot clothing trend of 2011. Everyone from Chezza to Nicole Scherzinger to Leona Lewis are getting their bright colour game on. As a very brightly coloured bunch, we're bang into it too! We've been seing [sic] loads of pink, which we LOVE - as it's totally an homage to our new Sourz Raspberry flavour ;) Pink is not just for girls either ... lads have been getting in on the trend too with raspberry skinny jeans, shirts, belts and ties. Don't believe us? Check out this lot, who were more than happy to strike a pose and show off their latest colours on Threadz . Images showed male and female models in various outfits, with each photo including glasses of brightly coloured pink (and in one case green) drink. Issue

Alcohol Concern, on behalf of the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC), challenged whether:

  1. the models shown were under 25 years of age, because they believed some of them appeared to be under 18 years of age; and
  2. the references to celebrities and the use of an emoticon winking smiley face were likely to appeal to people under 18.

Maxxium UK Ltd provided photographic ID for each of the models, including their dates of birth and their ages. They said the five models were aged 29, 27, 26, 25 and 25 at the time of the launch, but acknowledged that one of the models was just short of her 25th birthday at the time of the shoot.

2. They said the Sourz blog was hosted on a website which could only be accessed once a date of birth was provided and which stopped anyone under the age of 18 from legally seeing any content on the website, including the blog. They considered that all the website content appealed to and was exclusively consumed by people of a legal drinking age and if anyone under the age of 18 attempted to access the site they were re-directed to in line with their commitment to responsible marketing of alcohol.

They referred to Yahoo Survey research, which found that respondents from the ages of 19 to 25 were the most avid emoticon users, with 68% in this age group using emoticons on a daily basis, but that it was not just the younger generation who embraced emoticons, with nearly half (48%) of respondents over the age of 50 using emoticons in their everyday communication.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

1. Upheld

We noted that the Code required that marketing communications for alcoholic drinks should not show people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age in a significant role. Although we noted that the models were all over 25 when the shoot was published, we nonetheless considered that some of the models in the fashion shot, namely the girl featured in the pink dress and turquoise cardigan and the girl in the hat, would be considered to be some years under the age of 25 by many consumers, and could be seen by some consumers as being under 18. Although the models were not featured drinking, we noted that the shoot appeared to have taken place in a bar and that Sourz drinks appeared in some of the images. We also understood that one theme of the shoot was homage to our new Sourz Raspberry flavour .

Because we considered that two of the models, who featured prominently in the images, were likely to be seen by consumers as under 25, we concluded the ad breached the Code.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 18.16 (Alcohol).

2. Upheld

We noted that the blog used informal, colloquial language, including the use of a winking emoticon, and considered that that tone and approach were youth-orientated and likely to appeal to young people. We also noted that one aspect of the fashion shoot was to promote brightly coloured, fun fashion, which the ad claimed was likely to be worn by celebrities like Cheryl Cole, Nicole Scherzinger and Leona Lewis, and we considered that the ad associated that fashion style with the alcoholic Sourz drink. We noted that the celebrities mentioned were pop singers, associated with the X-Factor, who were popular with under 18s. We also considered that the models looked very young, with some models appearing to be around 18 years old, and, in light of that, considered that the fashion shoot would appeal to young people, rather than an older readership.

Because of the colloquial language, young-looking models and the references to X-Factor celebrities in the ad, we considered that it would have particular appeal to young people and concluded, in an ad promoting an alcoholic drink, that that approach was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 18.14 (Alcohol).



Ad Agency Caught Napping...

Virgin Mobile US advert winds up Richard Branson

Link Here10th December 2012

Virgin Mobile US has pulled an advert that seemingly made light of rape after Richard Branson slammed the online commercial as ill-judged and a dreadful mistake .

The offending ad depicted a man holding a gift while shielding the eyes of a woman, an accompanying caption asks: The gift of Christmas surprise. Necklace? Or chloroform?

The implication of chloroform being used to render attack victims unconscious, were immediately attacked on Twitter, with some posters alerting Branson to the ad.

Branson responded via the Virgin group website, saying:

Having just seen, for the first time, the Virgin Mobile US advert which has upset many today, I agree it is ill-judged. Although I don't own the company, it carries our brand. I will speak to the team there, make my thoughts clear and see what can be done about it.

In an update to the post, Branson confirmed that the people behind the ad had acknowledged that a dreadful mistake was made and had agreed to remove the advert within the hour.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Mobile USA said:

This image was not approved by Virgin Mobile USA. We apologise deeply to anyone who has been offended by this posting. It was removed early this morning.



ASA Gets its Stockings in a Twist...

Advert censor whinges at sexy American Apparel models

Link Here5th December 2012
Full story: American Apparel...Sexy clothing adverts wind up the advert censors

The Stockings & Hosiery section of the website showed images of the products for sale and included images of models wearing the tights or stockings.

  • a. The first showed a black and white photograph of a woman and her mirror image. She was lying on her back with her legs raised in the air, wearing shoes and patterned tights but nothing else. One of her breasts was visible.
  • b. The second showed several small photographs of women wearing tights but nothing else. One woman had her back to the camera and was bending over, touching her toes and looking back at the camera.
  • c. The third showed three identical photographs of a woman sitting on a window sill sideways to the camera wearing stockings and a long, flowered shirt.
  • d. The fourth showed three different photographs of a woman in pink tights and a blue top standing sideways to the camera.
  • e. The fifth showed five women wearing bras and different coloured tights lying on their stomachs but looking back towards the camera.
  • f. The sixth showed three pairs of women's legs raised in the air wearing different coloured stockings.
  • g. The seventh showed a woman lying on her stomach, sideways to the camera but turning her face towards it, wearing black, cut-out tights with the bottom exposed.
  • h. The eighth showed a woman on her hands and one knee, with her other leg raised in the air, sideways to the camera but turning her face towards it, wearing tights, shoes and a top.
  • i. The ninth showed a black and white photograph of a woman wearing sheer black tights and a top. She was sitting with her bottom facing the camera.
  • j. The tenth showed a woman on her hands and one knee, with her other leg raised in the air, sideways to the camera but turning her face towards it, wearing pink, footless, high denier tights and a bra.
  • k. The eleventh showed five pairs of women's legs wearing different coloured, high denier tights.
  • l. The twelfth showed the lower halves of four women wearing patterned or coloured tights. Three were sideways to the camera and one faced the camera.
  • m. The thirteenth showed a black and white photograph of two women wearing black, patterned tights but nothing else. One stood with her back to the camera and one stood sideways to the camera, but both had turned their heads to face the camera. One woman covered her breast with her hand.
  • n. The fourteenth showed a photograph of a woman lying on her stomach on a bed with her face turned towards the camera. She was wearing white stockings, knickers and a bra and was cuddling a pillow.
  • o. The fifteenth showed the lower halves of four women wearing coloured, high denier tights. Three were sideways to the camera and were bending over.
  • p. The sixteenth showed a black and white photograph of a woman wearing high denier tights but nothing else, bending forwards with her back to the camera.
  • q. The seventeenth showed a photograph of a woman wearing patterned tights and a flesh-coloured top. She was sitting on the floor, facing the camera and doing the splits.
  • r. The eighteenth showed a photograph of a woman wearing white tights but nothing else, curled up on a sofa, facing the camera. One of her breasts was visible.
  • s. The nineteenth showed a photograph of a woman lying on her side with her back to the camera, wearing coloured, high denier tights.
  • t. The twentieth showed a photograph taken from above of a woman lying on her side, wearing coloured, high denier tights.
  • u. The twenty-first showed a black and white photograph of the lower halves of nine women standing close together wearing tights. Two stood facing the camera; the others stood sideways to the camera.
  • v. The twenty-second showed a black and white photograph of two women with their backs to the camera wearing black, cut-out tights with the bottoms exposed. Both women had turned their heads to face the camera.
  • w. The twenty-third showed three photographs of a woman lying on her back on a sofa with her legs raised in the air. She was wearing coloured, high denier tights and a top.

A complainant, who had wanted to look at the website with her 12-year-old daughter, objected that the images were unnecessarily sexual and inappropriate for a website that could be seen by children.

American Apparel (UK) (American Apparel) believed it was standard practice to market hosiery, intimates or lingerie in the way done on their website. They supplied links to other retailers' websites which they considered portrayed similar products in similar ways. They said children could access any website; that their website sold a variety of products in addition to hosiery and lingerie and that hosiery and lingerie were labelled as such.

ASA Assessment: Upheld in relation to ads (p), (r) and (v).

The ASA considered that ads (c), (d), (e), (f), (h), (j), (k), (l), (o), (s), (t), (u) and (w) showed women in poses that were natural or artistic but which did not appear to be overtly sexual or otherwise inappropriate in hosiery ads on a website that could be seen by children. Because of that, we concluded that those ads were not in breach of the CAP Code.

Although no nudity was visible, we considered the pose of the woman in ad (p) was sexually suggestive and gratuitous in an ad for hosiery. Because of that, we concluded that the image was inappropriate in a hosiery ad on a website that could be seen by children.

We saw that one of the woman's breasts in ad (r) was visible and considered her pose was submissive and sexually suggestive. Although we considered it was reasonable for ads for hosiery to feature women in limited amounts of clothing, we considered that the image, together with her pose and the appearance of a breast in an ad for hosiery, was gratuitous. Because of that, we concluded that the image was inappropriate in a hosiery ad on a website that could be seen by children.

Although no nudity was visible, we considered the poses of the women in ad (v) were flirtatious and sexually suggestive; that the poses emphasised their bottoms and that they were gratuitous in an ad for hosiery. Because of that, we concluded that the image was inappropriate in a hosiery ad on a website that could be seen by children.

Ads (p), (r) and (v) breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).

We investigated ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), (m), (n), (o), (q), (s), (t), (u) and (w) under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach. Action



Split Opinions...

Australia's advert censors claim lads' mag Facebook page is advertising Facebook and therefore open to censorship

Link Here29th November 2012

Aussie lads' mag Zoo Weekly has been forced to remove several pictures from its Facebook page after they were ruled exploitative and degrading to women by the Australian advert censor.

One picture, posted in October, showed a bikini-clad woman chopped in half across her stomach, along with the caption: Left or right?  The other depicted a woman's bottom with a Nintendo logo on it and the caption: What would you call this console?

Both posts caused 'outrage' among Facebook users and online feminist websites.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) ruled both posts were in breach of two sections of the code of ethics relating to discrimination or vilification on the basis of gender, and of objectifying, exploiting and degrading women. It also ruled that comments posted by Zoo's fans on the pictures were in breach of the code for using strong or obscene language .

Since July the ASB has considered the content of commercial Facebook pages, including comments from fans, to be a form of advertising and have subjected them to the Advertising Code of Ethics.

However Zoo has criticised the ASB's decision, arguing that its Facebook page is simply an extension of its printed product and therefore should be considered editorial:

To describe Zoo's Facebook page as a 'marketing communication' is to misunderstand the nature of modern media organisations and the way in which they use social media to engage with their audience.



Oh My God!...

New Zealand advert censor dismisses whinges from the easily offended

Link Here25th November 2012

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has show itself to be a little less PC extremist than its UK counterpart and rejected complaints from the easily offended.

The first concerned an advert for Libra Invisible sanitary pads. In it, a woman said: Oh my God, he's looking, oh my God, as she watched men working out at rugby practice.

A complainant took offence, saying:

There is absolutely NO need for young girls to use the Lord's name in vain and trivial matter.

The ASA judged that although the complainant may have been offended, the phrase Oh my God was a well-used expression.. .:

in light of the generally prevailing community standards, it was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Another complaint concerned an advert for Hell Pizza. In it, a man playing the Devil brags about how he hacked into a Hell employee's Facebook account, stole some of her photos and threatened to show them to her mother, in order to blackmail her into going to work. In a demonic voice, the Devil looks at the camera and says, Which is all that matters to you.

A complainant claimed:

the evil change of voice of the Devil and also the use of bribery in exchange for work from a female is disgusting.

The ASA said the Devil was a regular character in Hell adverts, and the black-humoured and deliberately provocative advert did not reach the threshold to cause serious or widespread offence. It also noted the advert was not shown during programmes aimed at children and although lacking in taste , its intended audience would understand the irony and humour .

The complaint was thrown out.



Not Short on Sexy Stills...

Daily Mail has fun with 'fury' over Kingsmill advert

Link Here11th November 2012

A TV advert showing an 18 year old teenager posing provocatively in shortish school uniform skirt has prompted a few nutter complaints.

The Kingsmill bread advert shows a schoolgirl in the kitchen at breakfast. Her younger brother then relays a warning from their father:

If you think you're going to school in that skirt, you can think again.

The girl, played by actress Tara Berwin, responds by defiantly hitching up her mid-thigh length skirt to strike a provocative pose.

One 'outraged' viewer spouted on a web forum:

Perhaps it's because paedophilia is very much in the public consciousness at the moment but shouldn't this be illegal? Nearly seeing up the skirt of a minor?

Another spewed on Mumsnet:

 I really think it exploits teenage girls. At the end there is a girl dressed in a very short skirt, over-the-knee stockings and it's basically her school uniform.

I just don't see how it's appropriate or what it has to do with a Kingsmill loaf. It's blatantly using sex to sell an everyday product. Another parent noted: I think it's grim, to be honest. The same joke could've been made by dressing the girl in any number of other unsuitable-for-school outfits.

The camera lingers on her giving a twirl, and the over-the-knee socks make her look like she's in "naughty schoolgirl" fancy dress. Yuk.

Of course the Daily Mail peppered the article with lots of sexy stills and exhorted readers to 'scroll down and watch the advert'.



Working Mums...

A few whinges at Asda advert showing mum working hard at Christmas

Link Here8th November 2012

Nutters have whinged at an ASDA advert they see as sexist.

Under the slogan Behind every great Christmas, there's Mum , a young mother is shown racing around, while the father and the rest of the family put their feet up.

At least 33 viewers have complained to the easily offended advert censors at the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming the supermarket chain's advert is offensive to both women and men.

Radio 4 Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey whinged via her Twitter feed where she referred followers to the Everyday Sexism website.

The commercial has even managed to unite feminists and nutters of the Fathers4Justice campaign in condemnation. The fathers rights organisation has threatened a turkey sit-in at stores if the adverts are not pulled.

Asda, which created the commerical with ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, insisted that it has received the backing of the vast majority in a survey of 4,000 mothers. Asda also said that the response to the ad had been overwhelmingly positive

Asda have released a statement which reads:

To any mums and dads who have been upset by our Christmas TV ad -- we'd like to offer our sincere apologies. It wasn't our intention to offend anyone.

Our ad depicts what many of the 16million mums who shop in Asda tell us they feel. It is intended to be light-hearted and fun and in the main that's how it's been received.

We respect all hard-working parents and know just how tough it is managing a family -- particularly at Christmas.'



Monitoring PC Extremism...

ASA bans computer monitor ads with sexy images on screen

Link Here1st November 2012

The 24 inch Monitors page of, which offered PC monitors for sale, featured images of 20 PC monitors. Eighteen of the images included a woman wearing underwear on the monitor screen.

A complainant challenged whether the images were offensive, because they believed them to be sexist and degrading.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA noted the ad included images of women in their underwear and that two of the images showed women wearing only knickers and concealing their breasts with their arm and a pillow respectively. We therefore considered the images were likely to be seen as sexually provocative and had the effect of making those women appear sexually available. We also considered many of the models had sultry expressions on their faces and were shown in provocative positions, such as being laid on their backs with their arms outstretched or crawling towards the camera.

We considered sexually provocative images of women bore no relation to the products being advertised and that the ad therefore objectified the women by portraying them as sexual objects. We considered that because the ad objectified women it was also sexist and degrading. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Compliance) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).



Indonesian Maids Now on Sale...

And whilst you're at it, political sound bites are going at ten a penny

Link Here31st October 2012

An advertisement in Malaysia for cut-price Indonesian maids has gone viral online in Indonesia and sparked 'outrage'.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has phoned his Malaysian counterpart to complain and a few web users have vented their anger over the flyers tacked to trees in Kuala Lumpur which read

Indonesian maids now on sale!! Now your housework and cooking come easy.

You can rest and relax. Deposit only 3,500 ringgit ($1,150)

Arifin Sutrisno, an Indonesian campaigner for migrant workers' rights suggested:

Let's boycott travelling to Malaysia, they have become even more disrespectful.

Labour ministry spokeswoman Dita Indah Sari told AFP:

Saying Indonesian workers are on sale is likening a human being to a commodity. This is unacceptable.

Malaysian Labour Minister S. Subramaniam condemned the flyers:

We are going all out to trace the group responsible for the leaflets.



Viennese Balls...

Austrian museum withdraw adverts for exhibition of male nudes

Link Here16th October 2012

A museum in Austria has covered up hundreds of male genitalia on posters advertising an exhibition after complaints from 'outraged' Viennese.

Nutters took exception to the large full-frontal photograph of three French football players used to advertise an exhibition on the naked male form at the city's Wiener Leopold Museum.

The image is Vive La France by artists Pierre & Gilles. The three players, wearing nothing but socks and boots, and with a football between their feet, had appeared on 250 billboards across the city.

One complainant described the posters as pathetic and pornographic , and one angry local lady threatened to paint over the offending parts unless action was taken.

A museum spokesman told the newspaper Wiener Zeitung:

We don't want to disturb either children or adults, and if it's clearly something people don't want to see then we have to respect that. But the men are clearly not sexually aroused so we thought it would not cause offence.

Despite the nutter furore, the museum said it would retain a massive sculpture of a reclining male nude entitled Mr Big , which lies outside the museum.



PC Sheep at Mediawatch-UK...

Taking hyper easy offence at ENO condom poster

Link Here9th October 2012

English National Opera is under fire from Mediawatch-UK and a few tweeters after using a double entendre to promote its new production of Don Giovanni . The poster depicts a used condom packet and the words: Don Giovanni. Coming soon.

A spokeswoman for ENO said:

Given the subject of the piece, the marketing campaign for Rufus Norris's production reflects the opera itself.

We wanted an eye-catching ad to promote the opera. We came up with this idea which we think is brilliant, funny and captures the idea of Don G in a witty way.

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-UK, said the ad was clever in itself but contributed to the hyper-sexualisation of society.



Fucking Easily Offended...

Ludicrous ASA think that older teenagers are offended by the humourous use of the word 'fucking'

Link Here5th October 2012

A press ad in Dirt Mountainbike , a specialist mountain and dirt biking magazine, featured a man crouching next to a mountain bike, making a devil horns sign with his left hand. Text in the bottom right corner of the ad read: YT-INDUSTRIES.COM FUCKING GOOD BIKES!

A complainant challenged whether the use of the slogan FUCKING GOOD BIKES! was offensive and inappropriate, particularly in a publication likely to be read by children.

YT Industries said they developed and produced high-end mountain bikes for the extreme sport market. They said their customer target group was 16- to 30-year-olds and they targeted young people with a tolerant, open mind, who were focused on fun sports. They said the man featured in the ad was team rider Andreu Lacondeguy, who was one of the top mountain bikers in the world and was a hero for many mountain bikers. They said he was well known for performing the biggest tricks on his bike, as well as partying and listening to heavy metal. They said the slogan fucking good bikes was intended to convey that they offered outstanding bikes and the slogan was used because they considered it would fit with and appeal to the target group. They said it was not their intention to provoke or insult any readers or to negatively affect children.

Assessment Upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the magazine was targeted at young adult males, but noted the readership also included older teenagers. Because the ad was placed in a specialist mountain and dirt biking magazine, which was an activity which would appeal to children as well as adults, we considered that the ad was likely to be seen by some children. We therefore concluded that the use of the phrase FUCKING GOOD BIKES! in that context was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers.

The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).

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