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2015: April-June

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ASA wet blankets...

Advert censor whinges at website for carwash showing girls in bikinis

Link Here10th June 2015

Belgravia Car Wash's own website and Facebook page.

  • a. The advertiser's own website featured five images of two women wearing bikinis posed on or against a car. One image showed both women washing a car with soapy water, three images showed one of the women squeezing a sponge of soapy water over themselves and one image showed one woman washing the other woman with a soapy sponge.

  • b. The Facebook page featured the same collection of images as its cover photo.

A complainant, who believed the images were sexist and degrading to women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.

Belgravia Auto Valet Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA was concerned with Belgravia Auto Valet Ltd's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay).

We noted that the images showed the women were posed in bikinis, lying back or leaning against the car, with their buttocks directed at the camera or against the car, holding soapy sponges, which they were using to wash each other, themselves or the car, with soapy water on their bodies. We considered the images were sexually suggestive and the use of the models had no relevance to the advertised service and was, therefore, demeaning to women. Because the images were sexist and degrading to women, we concluded the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Belgravia Auto Valet Ltd to ensure future marketing communications were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.



Offsite Article: The ASA: Torquemada meets No More Page 3...

Link Here6th June 2015
The Advertising Standards Authority has become a censorious tyrant. By Brendan O'Neill

See article from



Charlton Promoted...

ASA kindly help publicise Charlton Athletic's stadium rental

Link Here4th June 2015

An online video ad, which was featured on the Charlton Athletic YouTube channel, for Charlton Athletic Football Club pitch hire in the style of candid CCTV footage showed a man and a woman entering the empty stadium late at night and running onto the pitch. They then appeared to start to have sex in the centre circle of the pitch and after a few seconds the stadium floodlights suddenly turned on. The woman, whose chest was pixellated, sat up and quickly drew her jacket around her. The camera drew back to show the stands, which showed the stadium name "The Valley", and a voice-over then stated "Fancy scoring at The Valley in May? Contact the sales team now to book the pitch for your team".

A complainant, who believed that the ad was sexist and derogatory towards women, and unsuitable for children to view, challenged whether the ad was:

  1. offensive; and

  2. harmful and irresponsibly targeted.

ASA Assessment

1. Not Upheld

The ASA noted that the ad featured sexual activity, with the implication that the woman was partially dressed, and that the phrase "score at The Valley" referred both to scoring a football goal at CAFC's ground and a euphemism for sex. We also noted that the woman was seen to initiate the break-in to the stadium and was not seen as a passive or unwilling participant, and understood that the euphemism 'score' related to sexual success by either gender. We therefore considered that the woman's role in the ad was not gratuitous and that she was not objectified. We acknowledged that the humour in the ad largely derived from the woman's unintentional public nudity, but noted that this resulted from her decision to break into the stadium and was likely to be understood as embarrassing rather than derogatory. Although we acknowledged that the humour, including the invitation to 'score' at the stadium, may be considered distasteful by some viewers, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on the grounds of sexism.

2. Upheld

The ASA considered that because the content of the ad was of a sexual nature it was therefore unsuitable for children and that care should therefore be taken to prevent it from appearing in places where children might view it. We acknowledged CAFC's statements that they had targeted the ad through selection of media aimed at adult males. However, the ad had also appeared on CAFC's YouTube channel. We noted that the majority of videos appearing on the channel comprised match footage and interviews with players and fans (including children), and considered that the channel was likely to attract children who were fans of the club. Because the ad had appeared in a place where children might see it we concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.


The ad must not appear again in its current form on the Charlton Athletic Football Club YouTube channel or other untargeted media. We told FL Interactive Ltd to ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted.



High Priests of PC...

Britain's advert censors publish their Annual report covering 2014

Link Here28th May 2015
 The advert censor of ASA and CAP have published their annual report covering 2014. They introduce the report in a media release:

ASA and CAP Annual Report 2014: Having more impact, being more proactive 27 May 2015

Our Annual Report published today reveals the steps we're taking to have more impact and be more proactive as part of our ambition to make every UK ad a responsible ad.

At a time when the responsibility agenda is a live issue amongst the ad industry, our Report highlights the proactive steps we're undertaking to provide a responsible framework for advertisers to engage creatively with their customers.

In summary these steps include:

  • Supporting advertisers. CAP published new guidance for advertisers and vloggers to help them make it clear to consumers when they are advertising. We also broadened our advice and training resources by creating a new eLearning module for alcohol advertising

  • Tackling problem ads. Our work resulted in 3,384 ads being changed or withdrawn and a record 1,599 compliances cases resolved. The ASA received 37,073 complaints about 17,002 ads with a 35% increase in complaints about online ads (for the first time overtaking TV to make it the most complained about medium) reflecting the importance of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving media landscape

  • Understanding society's concerns about ads. We conducted research into the public's experience of copycat websites and gambling advertising. CAP also commissioned an independent food literature review on online food and drink marketing to children to ensure the rules are in the right place

  • Having more impact. The ASA devised new Prioritisation Principles to help it decide what regulatory resource it uses when responding to complaints and what resource will be proportionate to the problem to be tackled

  • Raising awareness. With the creative talent and expertise of AMV BBDO the ASA created a national advertising campaign. The campaign will feature across media in 2015 thanks to ad space generously donated by the media industry

In our Report we also outline our commitment to increasing, improving and better targeting our support for industry. Last year, we delivered training and advice on a record 194,200 occasions including 7,168 Copy Advice enquires. Our focus now is on carrying on that momentum so every business has access to the information and support it needs.

Chairman of CAP and BCAP, James Best said:

If we're to meet the challenges that the ad industry faces - declining public trust, rapid changes to the media landscape and calls for tighter regulation on several fronts - key to that is helping advertisers make responsible ads. Through delivering more proactive and impactful regulation and with industry support and buy-in we will promote consumer confidence which is in turn good for business.



Which party will rid us of this PC extremism?...

Advert censor whinges at 22 year old model, neither dressed nor posed sexily, and ludicrously claims that this is sexualisation of children

Link Here6th May 2015

A double-page magazine ad, seen in Vogue, promoted the designer brand Miu Miu. It featured a photograph which appeared to have been shot through a slightly open doorway to reveal a young woman, wearing Miu Miu products, reclining on a bed while looking straight at the camera, in an otherwise sparse room.

The complainant, who felt that the image appeared to show a child dressed as an adult in a sexually suggestive pose, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive.

Prada SpA said the ad was part of a campaign featuring three different models in a series of cinematic tableaux. They said the images showed glimpses of the models through doorways and placed the viewer at the heart of a multidimensional, multi-room story. The ad featured Mia Goth, a 22-year-old actress and model. She was shown on crisp white bed sheets, wearing a sophisticated outfit, without a low neck-line, and nude make up. They did not believe she was shown in a sexually suggestive pose or that there was a sexual tone to the ad or her expression.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA noted that the model had a youthful appearance, was wearing very minimal make up and clothes that appeared to be slightly too large. We considered those elements contributed to the impression that she was younger than 16 years of age. She was posed reclining on a bed, looking up directly to the camera through a partially opened door, which gave her an air of vulnerability and the image a voyeuristic feel. We considered that the crumpled sheets and her partially opened mouth also enhanced the impression that her pose was sexually suggestive. We considered that her youthful appearance, in conjunction with the setting and pose, could give the impression that the ad presented a child in a sexualised way. Therefore, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Prada SpA to ensure future ads did not include images that inappropriately sexualised young women or were likely to cause serious offence.



Scenting Outrage...

ASA dismisses whinges about a sexy poster advertising perfume

Link Here29th April 2015

A poster, which appeared on the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street in London, featured model Cara Delevingne lying naked on her front, the side of her breast and buttocks visible. She was holding a bottle of Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume.

  1. One complainant challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display where children could see it and where it was close to churches and mosques.

  2. Another complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed it was degrading and objectified women.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the ad featured an image of Cara Delevigne in which she was clearly naked and lying on her side in water, with much of one of her breasts shown along with the profile of her buttocks. Despite her nudity we considered her pose was sensual and sexually suggestive but that it was not sexually explicit. We therefore considered that because the image was sexually suggestive, it should not have appeared within 100 m of a school. We understood the ad in question did not have a placement restriction but equally noted it had not been placed in a location within 100 m of a school and that a placement restriction was subsequently unnecessary in this instance.

We understood that because of its size and location on a busy urban street, the ad would be very noticeable to passersby and that attention would be drawn to the poster space regardless of its content and that in this case it may have been more noticeable because the model was clearly naked. However, we noted the ad did not appear within the immediate vicinity of a place of worship and that the area in question was a busy, diverse and popular area of London. We therefore considered the ad had not been placed inappropriately.

2. Not upheld

We noted the pose was sensual. Although the model was naked, we considered the image was not sexually explicit. We further noted the image was stylised and artistic and in-keeping with ads for beauty products such as perfumes where depictions of feminine beauty and the female body were commonly used. Whilst we understood some viewers may have found the image distasteful because of the nudity shown and implied, we considered the image itself was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and that it did not degrade or objectify women.



ASA's Pennyworth...

Advert censor bans FIFA coins advert for the widespread offence of 1 person

Link Here22nd April 2015

Six marketing emails from featured images of women. Some wore underwear and posed provocatively. Others were naked with sports clothing painted onto parts of their body.

A complainant challenged whether the ads were offensive, because they were explicit and objectified women.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA was concerned by FIFA4Coins' lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

The e-mails featured a series of images, which showed women each holding a football in a variety of poses. In some of the images, the women were naked and their body was painted to give the appearance that they wore a sports kit. In others, the women wore sports clothing tailored to partially reveal their breasts, or underwear/swimwear and were posed in a sexually provocative way. The ads had not been targeted over and above the email recipients' subscription to the advertisers' database as a result of previous purchases.

In all examples, the images of the women were sexual in nature and in two of the ads, one in which a woman crouched naked on all fours and another in which a naked woman lay on her back with her legs apart and her hands covering her genitals, the images were sexually explicit. In view of the sexual content, the ads were unsuitable for a general audience. In addition, in all ads the images of the women were used to promote the advertised product, a FIFA Coins collection. In view of the sexual nature of the images, which was explicit in some cases, and given that they bore no relevance to the product, we considered that their inclusion in the ads was likely to be seen as offensively objectifying women.

We concluded that the ads were likely to cause both serious and widespread offence.



Commented: No Shit!...

Advert censor whinges at lack of age restrictions for 'shit your bed' advert

Link Here12th April 2015

A TV ad for Bedworld featured both sales persons and customers talking about beds and mattresses which were available with free shipping. The ad opened with a family's conversation with a salesman, Ship this bed. Ship this bed? You can ship the bed right here at . The ad cut to two young children who asked, Dad, can we ship this bed? Another salesman said I've just shipped this mattress. An older couple said, We've just shipped this bed ... and it felt great. A further salesman said, I ship thousands of beds and mattresses all over the UK. Visit now and ship your bed for free. Issue

The ASA received 10 complaints.

  1. Ten complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed the word ship had been substituted in place of a swear word.

  2. Five complainants challenged whether the ad had been scheduled inappropriately at times when children may be watching television.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA considered Bedworld had used word play to draw attention to their offer of free shipping; an offer which we considered was evident from the signage in the showroom and the on-screen text at the end of the ad. We acknowledged that what had been said sounded similar to the expletive shit ; however the actors were, in fact, saying ship/ped . In the context of the ad, we considered that viewers who might have been offended by bad language were likely to recognise the pun being used and therefore were likely to understand what the actors were saying. For those reasons, we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Upheld

Five complainants were concerned the ad had been scheduled inappropriately and had been shown at times when children may have been watching. Clearcast cleared the ad without any scheduling restrictions which meant the ad could be shown at any time during the day, including during and around programmes targeted towards or of appeal to children. We understood from the complainants that they saw the ad, before, during and after Coronation Street, during This Morning and shortly before the national news at 6 pm. Based on the complainants' information, we considered the ad had appeared during programmes unlikely to appeal to or be targeted towards children.

As mentioned above, we acknowledged that, while the expletive had not been used, the two words did sound similar; we considered that younger viewers were unlikely to register the distinction between the two when spoken in the ad. We considered that shit was likely to be a word that parents may want their children to avoid, that children may already recognise as bad language and that was unsuitable for them. For those reasons, we considered a scheduling restriction should have been applied and because that was not the case, we concluded the scheduling of the ad breached the Code.

The ad must not be broadcast again without a scheduling restriction.

Comment: ASA talking shit

Thanks to Alan

Do the ASA actually understand the English language?

They refer to shit as an expletive. Only problem is that it usually isn't. Shit is only an expletive when used as such - Oh shit! If I say that I am going for a shit, or that after overdosing on laxative I shit the bed, I'm not using an expletive, but using shit as noun and verb in the literal meaning that it has had for centuries. Likewise, piss and fuck are not expletives if used in their literal sense, referring to having sexual intercourse or urination.

A bonkers decision based on crass ignorance of first-year undergraduate linguistics!



A Weighty Decision...

ASA dismisses complaints about a taxi advert noting an overweight lady as unattractive

Link Here8th April 2015

A poster for a taxi company, distributed to various venues around Southampton and Eastleigh, featured an image of a woman making a suggestive gesture. Text stated IF I START TO LOOK SEXY BOOK A TAXI . Smaller text stated Don't make bad decisions because you have had one too many! Don't drive under the influence, book a taxi with us .

Two complainants, who considered the ad was sexist and also portrayed the woman as unattractive because of her size, challenged whether the ad was offensive.

Asa Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted that the implied message of the ad was that the woman depicted would normally be considered to be unattractive and acknowledged that that was likely to be distasteful to some audiences. However, we considered that the emphasis of the image was on the unusual pose and styling of the woman featured, who was depicted wearing colourful and clashing clothes and large jewellery and accessories, and that the overall impression of the ad was that, owing to those factors, the particular, fictional, woman shown was not conventionally sexy , rather than that her weight rendered her unattractive. We also considered that the light-hearted intent of the ad was clear and that it would not generally be understood as an objectification of women, either in its intent or its result. Because we were satisfied that it would not generally be perceived as sexist, or as discriminatory on weight-related issues, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

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