A billboard shown at a large shopping mall complex and two posters, in both small and large scale formats, on the London Underground marketing a cosmetics company, MAC:
a. The billboard featured Miley Cyrus wearing a low cut bodysuit lying on her back with her legs apart against a mirrored wall looking into the camera. Around her were mirrors with pink lighting, which showed various angles of her
lower body. It featured text that stated MAC VIVA glam .
b. The small scale poster shown on the London Underground was almost identical to ad (a), but partially showed a reflection of Miley Cyrus' crotch in a mirror.
c. The large scale poster shown on the London Underground was almost identical to ad (a), but showed a mirrored reflection of Miley Cyrus' crotch.
The ASA received complaints from three members of the public:
three complainants objected that the ads were offensive, because they believed that they were overtly sexual; and
two complainants objected that the ads were unsuitable for display as posters in public
areas, as they were likely to be seen by children.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA recognised that some might find the posters distasteful, particularly in the context of a make-up ad and we considered that
the overall message of the posters was sexually suggestive. We noted that Miley Cyrus was shown wearing a one piece corset bodysuit that covered her buttocks and most of her breasts. She was lying down with her legs raised apart against a mirrored wall
and was reflected in the background mirrors. Furthermore, we considered that her facial expression along with her hands placed behind her head was seductive in nature. In ad (b), her crotch was partially reflected in one of the mirrors while ad (c)
showed a mirrored reflection of her entire crotch, although in both cases they were not heavily emphasised and were distorted by the lighting and overshadowed by Miley Cyrus' pose. We also acknowledged the large size of ad (a) shown at a shopping mall
complex and that ads (b) and (c) were heavily displayed throughout a London Underground station, which consequently, would have made the images more prominent to passers-by.
Therefore, while we considered that the images in all
three posters were sexually suggestive, we concluded however, that they were not overtly sexual and unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
While we did not consider the images to be
overtly sexual, Miley Cyrus' pose however, was sexually suggestive. In all three ads, she was lying down with her legs raised apart against a mirrored wall and was reflected in the background mirrors. Furthermore, in ad (b) her crotch was partially
reflected in one of the mirrors while ad (c) showed a mirrored reflection of her entire crotch. We also acknowledged the large size of ad (a) shown at a shopping mall complex and that ads (b) and (c) were heavily displayed throughout a London Underground
station, which consequently, would have made the images more prominent to passers-by.
Because the posters were sexually suggestive they were therefore, inappropriate for general outdoor display and warranted a placement
restriction of not appearing within 100 m of schools. However, we acknowledged that Exterion Media and the other media owners MAC had used did not display the posters at locations within 100 m of a school.
An ad on www.joke.co.uk featured a costume called Psycho Clown Costume and featured an image of a man holding a bloody machete and was wearing clown make-up, a blood spattered stained torn T-shirt, baggy trousers with thick red braces and a hat
with bright red curly hair attached to it. The ad also featured text that described the costume and stated, ... You'll give your friends colrophobia when they see you in this frightening clown costume[..] .
challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it reinforced negative attitudes about serious mental health illnesses.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ASA noted that the product was featured
on a website selling humorous fancy dress costumes, but was not otherwise targeted. Although advertisers were entitled to sell any product that was legal, the Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause
serious or widespread offence.
Although we acknowledged that some consumers would be likely to find the costume distasteful, we considered that it was unlikely that the image would cause offence. We noted that the word Psycho
was used in naming the costume, which along with the image, the complainants considered misrepresented people with mental illness because it implied they were violent and murderous. They considered that the ad contributed to the stigma surrounding
While we appreciated the complainants' concerns, we considered, however, that consumers would interpret the ad's reference to Psycho as a reflection of the themed costume resembling a villainous fictional
character from a horror film rather than as a reference to a person suffering from chronic mental disorder leading to abnormal or violent antisocial behaviour. Therefore, we considered that the reference to Psycho in conjunction with the image of
the costume was unlikely to reinforce negative stereotypes about mental illness, and concluded that the title of the costume Psycho Clown Costume was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
A poster for Larry Flynt's Hustler Club, which was displayed on the side of a van driven around South London, featured a photograph of a naked woman lying on her side with her back to the camera, and two fully clothed men standing in front of her and
looking at her. Text stated THE BEST VIEW IN CROYDON . Issue
The ASA received three complaints.
All of the complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, sexist and degrading to women.
Two of the complainants, who reported seeing the ad in Wimbledon Village on a Saturday and on Clapham
High Street and Putney Bridge on consecutive Sundays, challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for public display where it could be seen by children.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA considered that, while the ad only showed the back of the woman, it was clear that she was lying on her side, naked, facing
the two men who stood in front of her. While we acknowledged that the ad did not include any explicit nudity and the woman's pose was not overtly sexual, it was clear from the men's lines of sight that one was staring at her breasts, while the other was
staring at her crotch, and we considered that the overall impression of the image was that it was sexual in tone. When accompanied with the claim The best view in Croydon , we considered the image presented the woman merely as a sexual object to
be enjoyed at the whim of the club's clientele. While we acknowledged that the image was relevant to the nature of the club being advertised, we considered that it was likely to be seen as objectifying, and therefore demeaning to, women. Because of that,
we concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and was unsuitable for public display, particularly where it could be seen by children.
A promoted tweet on Twitter for the gambling operator Fruity King was shown on 18 April and featured text that stated:
Arsene Whinger has suffered more abuse from Arsenal fans over the last 9 years than a Yemeni child
slave in Saudi Arabia. FA-Cup.
A complainant, who objected to the use of an analogy relating to international child abuse with football, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
Media Ltd t/a Fruity King stated that the promoted tweet was published by their advertising agency with whom they were no longer working. Fruity King apologised for any offence that the promoted tweet may have caused to the Yemeni community, but they did
not believe that the tweet caused serious or widespread offence and that it was a tasteless joke with no malicious intent. They stated that the sponsored tweet was a one-off and that they had no plans to repeat it.
Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA understood that there were reports of children, who were particularly vulnerable to slavery, being trafficked into neighbouring states. We therefore considered that comparing the amount of
abuse a football manager received to that of a Yemeni child trafficked into slavery was entirely inappropriate for an ad and concluded that the promoted tweet was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
An ad, in the Evening Standard, for the musical The Book of Mormon featured the quote SO F**KING GOOD IT MAKES ME ANGRY , which was attributed to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Issue
Two complainants challenged that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for publication in a widely available newspaper.
One complainant challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for children to see.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that F**KING was partly obscured by asterisks, but acknowledged that the intended meaning of the word was still clear. However, we
considered, in the context of the ad, the word did not have a sexual meaning, but emphasised the extent to which Jon Stewart enjoyed the musical, while reflecting the adult content of the Book of Mormon and the language Jon Stewart used in his comedy.
Therefore, we considered the word would be interpreted in a light-hearted context. We understood that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership, and that the editorial sections reported on serious news events, while also regularly using
explicit language. Therefore, we did not consider the ad would be offensive to those who were likely to see the ad. For those reasons, we concluded the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
We noted that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership and referred to explicit language in its editorial section. We considered its content included news events about serious topics that would not be of particular
interest to children. Therefore, we considered that the newspaper in which the ad was published was unlikely to appeal to children and concluded that its placement was not irresponsible.
The Committee of Advertising Practice, CAP, is the arm of Advertising Authority, ASA, charged with producing censorship rules for advertising. ASA have issued the following press release:
CAP have produced clear new guidance
for vloggers to help them better understand how and when the advertising rules apply to their vlogs so that they are upfront and deal fairly with their followers.
The new guidance comes in response to calls for greater clarity
from vloggers about when material in vlogs becomes advertising and how they can make that clear. It follows a ruling last year in which several vlogs (where there was a commercial relationship between the advertiser and the vloggers) were found to be
misleading because they did not make clear before consumers engaged with the material that they were ads.
The advertising rules, which apply across media including online and to social media channels, state that ads must be
obviously identifiable as such. If a vlogger is paid to promote a product or service and an advertiser controls the message then it becomes an ad. When that happens, like all advertisers, vloggers must be upfront and clearly signpost that they're
The scenarios covered in the guidance are:
Online marketing by a brand - where a brand collaborates with a vlogger and makes a vlog about the brand and/or its products and shares it on its own social media channels
"Advertorial" vlogs -- a whole video is in the usual style of the vlogger but the content is controlled by the brand and the vlogger has been paid
Commercial breaks within vlogs -- where most of the vlog is editorial material but there's also a specific section dedicated to the promotion of a product
Product placement -
independent editorial content that also features a commercial message
Vlogger's video about their own product - the sole content of a vlog is a promotion of the vlogger's own merchandise
Editorial video referring to a vlogger's products -- a vlogger promotes their own product within a broader editorial piece
Sponsorship - a brand sponsors a vlogger to create a video but has no
control of the content
Free items -- a brand sends a vlogger items for free without any control of the content of the vlog
The advertising rules do not cover or prohibit vloggers entering into commercial relationships and the ASA does not regulate editorial opinion. In response to feedback from vloggers, however, we're also reminding brands and agencies
(be they advertising, digital or PR) looking to partner with vloggers of the need to be transparent. Any advertiser or agency that asks a vlogger not to be up-front (disclose) that they're advertising are asking them to break the advertising rules and
potentially the law.
Launching the new guidance, Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal said:
Wherever ads appear we should be confident we can trust what an
advertiser says; it's simply not fair if we're being advertised to and are not made aware of that fact. Our guidance will give vloggers greater confidence that they're sticking to the rules which in turn will help maintain the relationship and trust
they've built with their followers.
A poster on both the London Underground and Overground for a live zombie experience ( THE GENERATION OF Z APOCALYPSE ), showed a head of a zombie looking towards the viewer. It had sunken eyes, a pale complexion and blood stained teeth with more
blood around its mouth. The ad featured text that stated THE IMMERSIVE LIVE EXPERIENCE ... THE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL HAS BEGUN ... .
Two complainants objected that the ad was unsuitable for display as a poster in an
untargeted medium where children could see it.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that The Generation of Z considered that the image of the zombie shown in the ad could be viewed as
distasteful and following a rebranding of the show, a new advertising campaign was to follow.
We understood that at the time the poster appeared the show was targeted at an adult audience. We noted that the poster was highly
stylised and designed to promote the horror theme of the show, which featured actors dressed up like zombies and wearing monstrous make-up. While we considered that the sinister image of the zombie would not cause distress to older children and adults,
it could distress young children. Therefore, we considered that the poster was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium where it was likely to be seen by young children. We concluded that the placement of the poster breached the Code.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Generation of Z Ltd that they must ensure that their marketing was responsibly targeted.
An ad on the side of buses and a poster for the film Poltergeist :
(a) The bus ad featured an image of the head of a scruffy, smiling clown doll which stated THEY KNOW WHAT SCARES YOU. POLTERGEIST .
(b) The poster ad featured the same clown doll and text in a
darker format. Issue
Seventy two complainants, many of whom considered the ads were distressing for themselves, their children or had colrophobia (fear of clowns), challenged whether the ads were suitable for outdoor display in an untargeted medium.
ASA Assessment: Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that some children and adults considered that the ad was distressing especially in an untargeted, outdoor medium and that consumers with colrophobia could find
the ad distressing. We noted that the ad had a dark format and the image of the clown starred out from the poster and had a scruffy appearance. However, we considered the image was not menacing and noted the ad included no other images that were likely
to contribute to such an impression. The ad also included the text THEY KNOW WHAT SCARES YOU. POLTERGEIST but we considered in the context of ads for a horror movie it was not overtly threatening or suggestive of danger, rather it was likely to be
understood by consumers as being a typical reflection of a movie of that format.
Although we acknowledged that some distress had been caused, because we did not consider that the overall impression of the ads was such that they
were likely to cause excessive fear or distress, particularly in the context of an ad for a horror film, we concluded that they were not irresponsibly targeted in outdoor media.
Two ads for Vivastreet online classified ads service:
a. A poster displayed on a bus stop pictured three women posing and looking at the camera and text which stated A little bit of Bella ... A little bit of Layla... A little
bit of Nicola ... Get your own little bit at vivastreet.co.uk .
b. An ad on the side of a black cab featured the same image and text as ad (a).
The ASA received 24 complaints:
All the complainants objected that the ads, and in particular the phrase Get your own little bit , were offensive because they were sexist and objectified women.
Five complainants also objected
that the ads were irresponsibly placed where children could see them.
ASA Assessment: complaints upheld
The ASA understood that the ads promoted Vivastreet's personals section, which included a subsection for escorts as well as dating. We acknowledged that some people would
find the advertising of classified ads for escorts offensive because of the product being promoted. However, the fact the product would be offensive to some people was not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. We therefore
considered the overall impression and context of the ads.
The image of the women in the ad was no more than mildly sexual in nature and we considered that most people who saw the ad were likely to recognise that the words used
derived from the well-known song Mambo No.5. However, we considered that the words A little bit of Bella ... A little bit of Layla ... A little bit of Nicola ... Get your own little bit at vivastreet.co.uk , in combination with the image,
objectified women and implied that they could be bought on the Vivastreet website, which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We considered that many older children were also likely to understand that implication of the ads and for that
reason (and notwithstanding that the ads were not placed in close proximity to schools) it was socially irresponsible to place the ads in outdoor media because they were likely to be seen by children. Although we understood that Vivastreet were aiming
the ads at a particular target market, they appeared in outdoor media and could therefore be seen by anyone. We concluded that, in that context, the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that they were unsuitable for public display.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Vivastreet to take particular care when advertising the personals section of their website, including in outdoor media, to ensure they did not objectify women or imply
they could be bought, to avoid causing serious or widespread offence.
Before investigating the issues raised below we told Protein World that, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims, the ad could not appear again in its current form.
While the ad was prohibited from appearing again solely on
those grounds, we undertook a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.
A poster for a slimming product, seen on the London Underground network, stated ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?
and featured an image of a toned and athletic woman wearing a bikini.
378 complainants, who raised a range of issues around offence and potential harm, challenged whether:
the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the idealised one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and
the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline
ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY? was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the Copy Advice team had seen the ad prior to it appearing and advised that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We recognised that beach
body was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique similar to the image of the model in the ad. We considered that it also had a broader meaning - that of feeling sufficiently comfortable
and confident with one's physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment. We considered the claim ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY? prompted readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer and we did not
consider that the accompanying image implied that a different body shape to that shown was not good enough or was inferior. We concluded that the headline and image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
Although we understood the claim
Are you beach body ready? invited readers to think about their figures, we did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing
swimwear in public. For that reason, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible.