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2014: Jan-March

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Moral Discrimination...

Gay HIV awareness poster in Japan gets a censorship touch-up

Link Here22nd March 2014
Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard, advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare, featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together.

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was contrary to public order and morality because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays, especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.



Updated: ASA Wins an Oscar for Phony Outrage...

Advert censor responds to 5200 complaints by banning a Paddy Powers advert joke referencing the Oscar Pistorius trial

Link Here19th March 2014

We have today ordered that a national press ad for the bookmaker, Paddy Power be withdrawn with immediate effect. On the back of an unprecedented number of complaints, we are investigating whether the ad is offensive for trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability; we are also challenging whether, in doing so, it brings the good reputation of advertising generally into dispute.

Following the complaints, ASA Chairman, Lord Smith, has taken the unusual step of directing the advertiser to withdraw the ad from circulation pending the outcome of the investigation. In exceptional circumstances ASA procedures under the Advertising Code allow us to take interim action and have ads amended or withdrawn pending investigation.

The national press ad included an image of an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY .

We consider the ad may be seriously prejudicial to the general public on the ground of the likely further serious and/or widespread offence it may cause. We are also concerned that the good reputation of the advertising industry may be further damaged by continued publication of this ad.

The ASA is not investigating complaints about the ad appearing on Paddy Power's own website. The advertiser is based in Ireland and as a consequence the material on its website falls outside our remit.

The ad should remain out of circulation in all UK media until the investigation, which is being fast tracked, has been considered by the ASA Council and its decision is published on our website We welcome Paddy Power's willingness to cooperate.

Comment: Job Done

10th March 2013. See  article from

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain ordered the offending, and many would say offensive, advert pulled just days after it appeared, following over 5,200 complaints and an online petition with more than 122, 000 signatures. But by then the ad had appeared in news stories worldwide, reproduced in full Technicolor, taking up large swathes of newspaper space that Mr Power didn't have to pay for. Job done, we'd say.

Update: ASA claims that Paddy Power brought advertising into disrepute

19th March  2013. See  article from

An ad for a bookmaker, which appeared in The Sun on Sunday, included an image similar to an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated IT'S OSCAR TIME , MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY . Issue

1. 5525 complainants, who variously believed the ad was insensitive by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and also disability, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. The ASA challenged whether the ad brought advertising into disrepute.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA welcomed Paddy Power's cooperation in responding promptly and their confirmation that the ad would not be repeated in the UK pending the outcome of the investigation, as directed by the ASA.

1. Upheld

We acknowledged that, while the bet offered was likely to be seen as distasteful by some readers, the ad was for a product we understood was offered legitimately. We also acknowledged that the ad made no explicit reference to death or violence.

However, we considered that by making reference to a high profile murder trial, the ad would be interpreted by readers as being inextricably related to the sensitive issues surrounding the trial, and to be making an implied reference to the person who had died. The CAP Code stated that references to anyone who was dead must be handled with particular care. We considered the ad, in particular the text IT'S OSCAR TIME and MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS , was likely to be interpreted as making light of the issues surrounding the trial, which included the death of a woman who had been shot by her boyfriend. We also considered the text MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS and WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY was likely to be seen as making light of the serious decision making process involved in that trial. We therefore considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday by trivialising the sensitive issues surrounding the murder trial.

We acknowledged that the ad made no visual reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability and that the reference IF HE WALKS would be understood to be related to the outcome of a criminal trial. However, we considered that text would also be understood by readers as a clear reference to Oscar Pistorius's disability. We again considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and we were concerned that using the pun IF HE WALKS made light of disability. The CAP Code stated that particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of disability and we considered that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Sun on Sunday.

For the reasons given, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.

2. Upheld

We acknowledged that the ad had appeared in the context of a high profile murder trial that had received extensive media coverage and was of interest to the public. We considered it would therefore have been reasonable to foresee that serious or widespread offence was likely to be caused by placing an ad that sought commercial advantage based on that trial and which made light of the sensitive issues involved. Given the content of the ad, and the prevailing circumstances at the time of its publication, we concluded that it brought advertising into disrepute.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Paddy Power to ensure their future ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and did not bring advertising into disrepute.



Small Arms Advert?...

Italian minister easily offended by used of Michelangelo's David in a gun advert

Link Here10th March 2014
Italy's government is threatening legal action against a US small arms company over a supposedly offensive advertisement showing Michelangelo's David holding a rifle.

Rome's censorship minister Dario Franceschini has pleaded with Illinois-based ArmaLite to withdraw the promotion for a bolt-action rifle:

The advertising image of the armed David (is) wrong and violates the law. We will act against an American company that must withdraw immediately the campaign.

Angelo Tartuferi, the director of the Accademia Gallery museum where David has been on display since the 1870s, claimed the ad was in bad taste as well as completely illegal, reports the BBC. The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted, he added .



Free Publicity for Free Porn...

PornHub, a notable adult website, is looking to advertise in more mainstream media

Link Here7th March 2014
The adult video site Pornhub is planning its first ever national advertising campaign, and it's asking the public to help.

The limelight, the site is holding an open contest asking people to submit their best ideas for clever, safe-for-work advertising to run on television, in magazines, and on the Web. The winner will be awarded a one-year contract to be the site's first creative director. Vice President for Marketing Corey Price said. He said that users frequently email him with their own marketing ideas.

PornHub is a sort of YouTube for porn, a place where people come to upload and watch free adult content. According to the online tracking company Quantcast, the site was visited by around 15 million unique users each month as recently as this past fall.

In the past year or so, Pornhub, one of a handful of adults sites owned by the company MindGeek, has worked to bring itself out of the shadows and into the mainstream. In early 2013, it ( perhaps facetiously ) sought to purchase a Super Bowl ad, but CBS rejected the ad on the grounds that CBS' policy prohibited it from promoting pornography.

Chauntelle Anne Tibbals , a sociologist who studies the pornography industry, said major corporations are unlikely to touch an ad for adult content, and that Pornhub's contest was likely a publicity stunt.

The contest will accept applications through March 31, with submissions being posted for the public to see at As an idea of what the site is looking for in a creative director, Price said the image above right had the appropriate level of humor without being explicit:



Silly Complaints about Silly Songs...

ASA dismisses whinges about carol singers in a KFC christmas advert

Link Here5th March 2014

  Singing all our stupid songs

Two TV ads and a VOD ad for KFC:

  • a. The TV ad featured a song about making peace with those around you at Christmas time and featured various scenes such as two women fighting over a toy in a shop and a group of children who broke a window during a snowball fight. One of the scenes featured a group of carol singers outside an old man's house whilst the song lyrics stated We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and the reply Normally I'd hose you down, but now it just seems wrong .

  • b. A shorter version of the TV ad featured the same part of the song and lyrics.

  • c. The VOD version of the ad was the same as ad (b).

Thirty complainants challenged whether the lyrics all our stupid songs in ads (a), (b) and (c) were likely to cause serious and widespread offence because they mocked an element of Christian worship.

KFC believed it was a tongue-in-cheek ad which took a humorous look at the commercialised hype around Christmas. They said the ad typified the perspective of a very stereotypical grumpy old man, based on Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, who was usually irritated by everything about Christmas, particularly Christmas songs. They said that the ad showed that this year he had seen the error of his ways and that the lyrics sung were vocalising the mind-set of the Ebenezer Scrooge character, demonstrating how he normally saw the world.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted the storyline about the Carol singers featured them cheerfully singing We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs and considered that viewers would understand this to be an ironic reference to the old man's normal reaction when he heard Carol singers at his door.

We considered that whilst some viewers may have found the lyrics in reference to the Carols to be flippant and at the expense of Carol singers, we noted the ad made clear that the Carol singers were outside someone's house and were not in a Church or any other place of worship and that they were therefore not representative of Christian singing or the Christian faith more generally. We considered that viewers would understand that in this context, the Carol singers featured in the ad were representative of Carol singing in general (which included faith based songs and non-faith based songs) which are part of British Christmas tradition and which are sung by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Whilst we understood that some people of the Christian faith felt that the song lyric in the ad ridiculed their faith, we considered that most viewers would not interpret the lyrics as mocking Christianity (in total or in part) and concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence



Advert banned for Jamster's Nude Scanner 3D app...

Advert censors invent an app to reveal 'offensiveness' wherever they look

Link Here22nd February 2014
A TV ad for a mobile app, Nude Scanner 3D , shown during six episodes of Hollyoaks. The ad showed a clothed woman holding an umbrella. A hand appeared which held a mobile phone. The phone then scanned the woman which revealed her naked with her breasts and crotch blurred out. The naked image then rotated, showing the woman from the waist up. The voice-over stated, The 3D nude scanner is available for your mobile. Prank your friends to think you can see what any of them look like without clothes on. Just send scan to xx xxx to get the fun app now. Or also go to and join Jamster action for £4.50 per week. On-screen text stated For entertainment purposes only ... 16+, Bill payer's permission .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction.

Twenty-six viewers complained about the ad:

  1. Twenty-one viewers challenged whether the ad was appropriately scheduled because it was shown at times when it could be seen by children, including young teenagers.
  2. Seven viewers, some of whom stated that the ad was demeaning to women, challenged whether the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
  3. Seven viewers challenged whether the ad could encourage anti-social behaviour.

ASA Assessment

1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA welcomed Jamster's assurance that the ad had been removed from broadcast. We noted the ad featured a naked woman, with her breasts and crotch pixilated, who rotated in order to show her front and back. We acknowledged that the models featured on the app would not be shown fully naked, that the voice-over contained one reference to pranking and that on-screen text stated for entertainment purposes only . However, we considered that viewers may have assumed that the image would be fully nude because the ad had not made that clear. We also noted the visual of the woman was held on-screen for the majority of the ad and that she appeared in a playful and provocative pose. Because the ad focused on the product's apparent ability to enable the user to view naked images of women using the camera on their phone, and had a prolonged focus on the female model, we considered it was unsuitable for a child audience and was likely to be viewed as demeaning to women and, therefore, offensive.

We acknowledged the ex-kids restriction that was applied to the ad which meant that it should not be shown during programmes that were likely to be of particular appeal to children. We obtained the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) figures and noted that the proportion of children who had watched Hollyoaks during the times when the ad was viewed by the complainants was, on two occasions, above the threshold at which a TV programme was said to have particular appeal to audiences who were under 16 years of age. Furthermore, on those broadcasts and on one other broadcast, the threshold of children between the ages of 10 and 15 who had viewed Hollyoaks was also above that threshold. We considered that whilst younger children may not understand the references to a nude scanner , that was unlikely to be the case for older children and we considered them to be the group most likely to have been interested in downloading the app.

Because the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded it should not have been broadcast at any time, including during programmes of particular appeal to children.

On these points, the ad breached BCAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) 32.1 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) and 32.3 (Under-16s).

3. Not upheld

We noted the ad had not contained language or on-screen text that encouraged the app to be downloaded to make fun or humiliate others. Whilst we considered the ad to be demeaning to women and unsuitable for children, and acknowledged that some viewers might find the product distasteful, we concluded that the ad itself was unlikely to condone or encourage bullying or anti-social behaviour.

On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising) 4.9 (Harm and offence) and 5.4 (Children) but did not find it in breach. Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Jesta Digital GmbH to ensure their future advertising was not demeaning to women and contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.



Whingers get a good kicking...

ASA turns down complaints about a violence in a Sugar Plum Fairy ballet advert for Baileys

Link Here29th January 2014

Two TV ads promoted Baileys and featured an arrangement of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker ballet throughout:

a. The ad opened with three women arriving at a party and each receiving a glass of Baileys. One of the women made eye contact with a man across the room who then approached and commenced dancing with her in a ballet style. Another male character, who had watched the couple from a balcony, jumped down to the floor and, flanked by his friends, joined the dance. At that point, the music increased in pace and the dance became more confrontational in style as the group of men tried to separate the couple and grab the female lead away. The male leads were shown dancing together, spinning and kicking as they leapt towards and away from one another. At one point the female character stepped between the men before being grabbed by one of the group of men and later struggling free. The dance ended as the woman performed a pirouette with her leg extended, which appeared to strike the second man across the face. She then rejoined her friends, at which point text stating Spend time with the girls this Christmas appeared.

b. The ad was a shortened version of ad (a) and showed the same key scenes, including the confrontation between the male characters and the shot of the woman appearing to kick one of the men across the face. The ad also ended with the female lead rejoining her friends and the text Spend time with the girls this Christmas . Issue

The ASA received nine complaints.

  1. One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was in breach of the Code, because it featured violent and aggressive behaviour in the context of an ad promoting alcohol.

  2. Eight complainants challenged whether ad (b) was in breach of the Code for the same reason.

Diageo Great Britain Ltd explained that the idea behind the ads was to show the ultimate girls' night out in a modern, fantastical way and they had chosen to do so through a retelling of the classic story, and Christmas ballet, the Nutcracker.

Diageo did not believe that the ads linked alcohol with violent or aggressive behaviour in any way. They highlighted that the ads were set in a fairy-tale land and showed an interpretation of an instantly recognisable famous scene from the Nutcracker ballet (the dance of the Mouse King) and as such were deliberately and obviously fictional. They said every creative aspect of the ads, from the costumes, set design, music and choice of ballet as a dance medium, were designed to be fantastical and far removed from real life.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA understood that the ads were intended as a retelling of a scene from the famous Christmas ballet, the Nutcracker, in which Clara saved the Nutcracker from the Mouse King and his army of toy soldiers. We noted that throughout both ads a rendition of the score from the ballet was played and included music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. We considered that most consumers would be familiar with the basic story of the ballet and therefore understand that the ads reflected that story.

We understood that the complainants objected to the fact that the ads linked alcohol and what they believed to be aggressive and anti-social behaviour. We noted that when the male character jumped down from the balcony and tried to separate the dancing couple, the music increased in pace and featured more staccato notes, and the characters' interactions and movements became more accented as they moved spinning, leaping and kicking towards and away from one another. We also noted the grabbing gestures, the fact the female lead was shown struggling and trying to escape from the Mouse King's friends, and the end of the scene when her extended leg appeared to strike the man across the face.

We considered, however, that from the outset the ads were clearly fantastical and highly stylised. We noted the costumes, the opulent setting and the fact the narrative was communicated almost entirely through the medium of dance. We also considered that whilst the characters' movements changed, becoming less fluid and more dramatic as the music sped up and the second male character entered the dance floor, the movement was still obviously identifiable as choreographed dance. Similarly, we considered that the reaction of the other guests around the dance floor when the female lead appeared to strike the male, and the manner in which she returned to her friends, suggested that the male character had not been injured, and emphasised the stylised and light-hearted nature of the ads.

We considered that viewers would understand that the ads were a fictional and stylised retelling of a popular Christmas ballet, and would understand the dancing featured, including the choreographed confrontational movements between the main characters and the final pirouette, to be a visual expression of the story, as opposed to a realistic depiction of violent or aggressive behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ads were not in breach of the Code.

We investigated the ads under BCAP Code rule 19.5 (Alcohol), but did not find them in breach.



Update: Aggressive Complaints...

Mothers Against Murder and Aggression are 'outraged' about a Dolce and Gabbana fashion advert

Link Here21st January 2014
A complaint about a fashion advert featuring guns and knives has been lodged by a moralist campaign group.

Fashion company Dolce & Gabbana created an advert for their winter campaign. It depicts a man with a flintlock pistol grasping a naked woman as they stand over a dead body with a bullet hole in its forehead, while two other men stand poised with daggers.

Dee Warner, of campaign group Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said:

The poster has nothing whatsoever to do with fashion and everything to do with the glorification of guns and knives.

Dolce & Gabbana should take responsibility for the part they play in the damage caused by these insensitive and irresponsible advertising campaigns.

The fashion industry is looked up to by our young people, those that aspire to wear the clothing that their celebrity idols wear.

The industry is filled with irresponsible adverts that send out messages to these young people that guns and knives are cool and so are drugs.

Warner said she was submitting a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).



Update: What the L is Winding up One Million Mums?...

An advert for Staples office supplies

Link Here16th January 2014
Full story: One Million Moms...Moralist whingers against anything sexy
Moralist campaigners One Million Mums are trying to get the US office supplies chain, Staples, to withdraw its 'What the L' adverts. The group writes:

The new Staples ad campaign uses the tagline What the L! We all know children repeat what they hear. Everyone knows exactly what the company is implying with the mock swearing, but their commercials make sure there is no doubt of their intentions to push the advertising envelope. Staples printed ad spells out STAP ES (minus the L), - leading to the question, What the L is going on?

Staples commercials use these slogans: There will be L to pay; L if I know; Get the L out of here; All L has broken loose and What the L is going on.

Staples' ads (airing on broadcast airwaves and in print) are irresponsible and offensive. They are extremely destructive and damaging to impressionable children who will be exposed to this suggested profanity.


Send Staples an email letter and urge them to no longer produce marketing campaigns that cross the line, to pull the newest What the L commercials off the air and stop circulation of the printed ad immediately.



Australian Advert Censor Recommends...

GoodTime Burgers at Bondi Beach

Link Here2nd January 2014
A Bondi burger restaurant's advertisement depicting a woman's bottom as a hamburger has been banned by the Australian advert censor.

GoodTime Burgers, which opened at the Eastern Hotel in Bondi Junction last month, had published the ad in the December issue of eastern suburbs community magazine The Beast before its launch.

The ad showed a woman lying on a beach in a bikini with her bottom forming the buns of a hamburger, under the tagline the freshest fun between the buns .

One of the complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau was that the woman's body and private parts are objectified as something for people (probably men) to consume .

The advert censor claimed that the ad breached Section 2.2 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers code in that it was exploitive and degrading to women.

It also determined that the fun between the buns tagline was sexually related innuendo and, while the magazine was not targeted directly at children, it was easily accessible to a broad audience and therefore did not treat issues of sex and nudity with sensitivity to its audience.

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