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A bit hard...

ASA bans outdoor poster for gay online sex shop

Link Here22nd May 2022

An outdoor poster ad for Get Hard, an online gay sex toy store, seen in January and February 2022, featured a person wearing a gimp mask and a background of aubergine and peach emojis. Large text superimposed in-front of the person's face said GET HARD and ANYONE CAN GET INTO IT!. The ad also included the URL

The ASA received two complaints. The complainants challenged whether the ad was:

  1. offensive because they believed it was overly sexualised; and

  2. inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where children could see it.

Get Hard Ltd said they used the tagline Get Hard. Anyone can. Get into it! to encourage an attitude of passion, grit, empathy, affection and self-care, that could be reached by anyone.

Get Hard said they wanted to encourage people to be open with themselves and have fun with the topic of sex, rather than the over serious and frigid attitude they believed was held by many people.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ad was displayed at an outdoor poster site in London, which was an untargeted medium and where the image was likely to be seen by children and adults.

The ad featured a person in what appeared to be a gimp mask and large text that stated GET HARD. We understood that a gimp mask was an item of clothing worn by some people during sex who liked to be dominated. We considered that the image of the person wearing a gimp mask, which also emphasised their open mouth, was overtly sexual. We also considered that the text GET HARD was likely to be understood as slang for an erection, which we considered was sexually suggestive. We further understood that the peach and aubergine emojis were commonly used as references to a bottom and a penis, respectively, and often had sexual connotations. Taking the image of the person in the gimp mask together with the references to getting hard and the use of peach and aubergine emojis, we considered that the ad was overtly sexual.

We concluded that, because the ad was overtly sexual and was displayed in an untargeted medium where it had the potential to be seen by a large number of people, including children, it was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was irresponsible. We concluded that the ad was unsuitable for outdoor display and therefore breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in outdoor advertising. We told Get Hard Ltd to ensure that their advertising was suitably targeted and to exercise caution when preparing ads for display in outdoor space.



Widespread offence...

ASA bans Adidas bra advert highlighting differing breast types

Link Here11th May 2022

A tweet and two poster ads for sports bras, seen in February 2022:

  • a. A tweet on Adidas' own account showed, in a grid format, the bare breasts of 20 women of various skin colours, shapes and sizes. The pictures were identically cropped to show only the torso from below the shoulders to above the navel. It stated, We believe women's breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort. Which is why our new sports bra range contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the right fit for them. Explore the new adidas sports bra collection at LINK. #SupportIsEverything.

  • b. A poster showed the same cropped images of the bare breasts of 62 women and stated, The reasons we didn't make just one new sports bra.

  • c. A poster showed the same text and cropped images of 64 women, but their nipples were obscured by pixelation.

The ASA received 24 complaints.

  1. Some complainants, who considered the ads' use of nudity was gratuitous, objectified women by sexualising them and reducing them to body parts, challenged whether they were harmful and offensive; and

  2. Some complainants also challenged whether ads (b) and (c) were appropriate for display where it could be seen by children. Response

1. Adidas UK Ltd believed the images in the ads were not gratuitous; they were intended to reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important. They said the images had been cropped to protect the identity of the models and to ensure their safety. All the models shown had volunteered to be in the ad and were supportive of its aims. They did not consider the ad to be sexual; they intended to show breasts simply as a part of a woman's body.

2. Adidas said that the pictures were intended to reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes and they did not believe they would cause harm or distress to children.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the intention of the ads was to show that women's breasts differed in shape and size, which was relevant to the sports bras being advertised. Although we did not consider that the way the women were portrayed was sexually explicit or objectified them, we considered that the depiction of naked breasts was likely to be seen as explicit nudity. We noted the breasts were the main focus in the ads, and there was less emphasis on the bras themselves, which were only referred to in the accompanying text.

We acknowledged that in ad (c) the women's nipples had been obscured by pixelation. Although the image was less immediately explicit, we considered that the breasts were still visible and recognisably naked, and therefore the effect of the image would be the same as in the ads (a) and (b).

As the ads contained explicit nudity, we considered that they required careful targeting to avoid causing offence to those who viewed them.

Ads (b) and (c), which were large posters, appeared in untargeted media and were therefore likely to be seen by people of all ages, including children. We considered that the image was not suitable for use in untargeted media, particularly where it could be seen by children. We concluded that ads (b) and (c) were inappropriately targeted, and were likely to cause widespread offence.

We noted the content typically featured on the Adidas Twitter feed promoted their sportswear for women and considered explicit nudity was not in keeping with their usual content. Because ad (a) featured explicit nudity, we concluded it was likely to cause widespread offence in that media.

We therefore concluded that the ads breached the Code.

The ads must not appear again in the forms complained of. We told Adidas UK Ltd to ensure their ads did not cause offence and were targeted responsibly.



ASA cry babies...

Advert censor bans boohoo advert claiming widespread legs mean widespread offence

Link Here17th February 2022

A website for the clothing retailer Boohoo,, seen on 26 November 2021, featured a product listing for a T-shirt. Two images in the ad showed a model wearing the T-shirt with only thong-style bikini bottoms and trainers; one was a rear view that showed her kneeling, the other showed her sitting on the ground with her legs apart. Another image was an upper-body shot that showed the model lifting the T-shirt as if to remove it and exposing the skin on her stomach and side.

A complainant, who believed that the images objectified and sexualised women, challenged whether the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible.

Response UK Ltd said the images were part of their swimwear category and explained that the model was wearing the T-shirt with a bikini. As a brand they often combined a variety of products in their images to show how items could be worn in different ways. They said that the way they presented their garments reflected the diversity of women in society and their customer base.

Boohoo said that they understood the importance of the issues raised and had removed the images from their website.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that although it had been presented as part of the swimwear category, the advertised product was an oversized T-shirt and the product listing appeared as a result of searches for T-shirts or tops.

In one of the images, the model was shown from the rear in a kneeling position and we noted that the T-shirt was folded under so that the bikini bottoms and the model's buttocks and naked legs were visible and prominent. We considered that the image emphasised the model's buttocks and legs rather than the product and that she was posed in a sexually suggestive way from behind, with her hand appearing to be tucked into the bikini bottoms at the front.

In another image the model was sitting with her legs spread apart so that the focus was on her crotch and we considered that pose was also sexually suggestive, taking into account that she was wearing the T-shirt folded under again and with only the bikini bottoms on her lower half.

In a third image, the model was wearing the T-shirt with trousers over the bikini bottoms. However, she was seen lifting the T-shirt to expose her stomach and side and we considered the emphasis of that image was also her exposed skin rather than the product.

We also noted that neither the partial nudity nor the bikini bottoms were relevant to the product and that the images did not show the product as it would usually be worn.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad objectified and sexualised women. It was therefore irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told UK Ltd to ensure that future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and that they did not cause serious or widespread offence or harm by objectifying women.

Offsite Comment: Sob Story: The ASA's Puritanical Fear Of The Female Body

17th February 2022. See article from

The self-declared advertising authority uses modern buzzwords to disguise the decidedly Victorian morality behind its decisions.




Advert censor bans recruitment advert over 'blackface'

Link Here13th December 2021

A post on recruiter JD Recruitment's Facebook page, seen on 5 October 2021, featured details about a Branch Manager position. An image embedded in the post showed a woman covered in black paint, wearing bold red lipstick and an open leather jacket, licking her lips and covering her breasts with her left hand.

  1. The complainant, who believed the ad featured a woman in blackface, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious offence.

  2. The ASA challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious offence because the image objectified the woman.

JD Recruitment Group Ltd said that they had not intended to cause any offence with the image and had used it to provide a striking visual image along with the subject matter of the post -- a job opportunity in the Blackburn area. They said that, on reflection, they could see how the image might have caused offence, and objectified the woman depicted, and that they would ensure they were more aware of the issues raised in future marketing communications.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

1. Upheld

The CAP Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, with particular care to be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds of protected characteristics, including race.

The ASA noted that the woman shown was covered in black paint, with bold red lipstick, and the whites of the woman's eyes were prominent, contrasted against the black paint. We considered that imagery shared strong similarities with blackface makeup, which had historic connotations with mocking portrayals of black people. We understood that was a negative racial stereotype and was widely considered to be racist in nature.

We therefore considered its use in the ad was likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race and concluded the ad breached the Code.

2. Upheld

We noted that the post was for a job vacancy, and the image of a partially topless woman bore no relation to the listing being advertised. We considered that the pose was suggestive in nature, with the woman depicted licking her lips suggestively and covering her exposed breasts with her hand. We considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the woman by using her physical features to draw attention to an unrelated job listing. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to have caused serious offence.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told JD Recruitment Group Ltd to ensure they avoided causing serious offence on the grounds of race. We also told them not to portray women in a manner that objectified them and was likely to cause serious offence.

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