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ASA vs English Freedom...

Advert censor bans gollywog character from adverts for the Ginger Pop Shop

Link Here22nd September 2016

A press ad for the Ginger Pop Shop seen in the Purbeck Gazette in June 2016 included text which stated Visit our shop and get the tea-towel! and featured an illustration of a golly character holding a pint of ginger beer with text underneath stating ENGLISH FREEDOM .

Two complainants, who believed the depiction of the golly character was racist, objected that the ad was offensive.

Ginger Pop Ltd said they did not accept that the golliwog represented negative racial stereotypes. They provided information about the history of the golliwog character, including his origins in a children's book in the late nineteenth century. They provided a copy of that book and a sequel, with quotes about his origin from the author. They also provided a modern edition of a Noddy Book and The Golly , a collectors' handbook, which showed the variety of golly memorabilia available. They also provided a letter from a supporter and a comments book from their shop, which they said showed that the vast majority of passers-by were positive about the fact they sold golliwogs in their shop. They referred to two online videos they had uploaded about golliwogs. They believed the character as depicted in the original books and on Robertson's marmalade badges was heroic and was an aspirational role model. They acknowledged the character had become stereotyped over time which they said had led some to believe the character was negative. They also said that he was not intended to be seen as a human character but as a magical being, and that many people of all backgrounds had golly toys as children. They supplied a tea-towel which they had produced to celebrate 120 years of golliwogs, which included many adjectives to describe the character and which they were said were far removed from the minstrel doll stereotype.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that there had been some local controversy around the tea-towel produced by Ginger Pop for display and sale in their shop, and that the ad was a reference to that. However, we did not consider that all readers would be aware of that background, or that such awareness would necessarily impact on their reaction to the ad.

The Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds, including race. We noted that the ad featured an image which was recognisably a golly character. We considered that many people were likely to view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, and its prominent inclusion in a press ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also considered that the inclusion of the words ENGLISH FREEDOM in the ad was likely to contribute to that offence, because in combination with the image it could be read as a negative reference to immigration or race. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of.



ASA or ASS?...

Feminist campaigners 'outraged' that the advert censor doesn't ban sex adverts from inside the Sunday Sport

Link Here21st September 2016

Two national press ads for Luv2Chat, seen in the Sunday Sport on 14 June 2016, promoted adult chat lines:

  • a. The first ad appeared on an inside page of the paper and featured several images of naked and partially naked women in sexualised poses with their breasts visible. The images were accompanied by phrases such as They're Huge! Shoot Your Load on my Massive Tits!! and Filthy Old Pensioner! Give Quick 30 Second Relief .

  • b. The second ad appeared on the back page of the paper and featured several images of women, who appeared to be removing their clothing, with their breasts partially visible. The images were accompanied by phrases such as XXX Sex Stories and Filthy Sex Chat with Hot TGirls! .

Not Buying It! [a feminist campaign group], who were concerned that the ads could be seen by children, challenged whether the ads had been irresponsibly placed.

Worldwide Digital Media said that to prohibit the ads from being placed in the newspaper, would be highly selective and restrictive, and would amount to censorship on the UK's free press.

The Sunday Sport said they regularly ran similar ads in their newspaper, but had never received a complaint directly about their content, and were not aware of any previous complaints to the ASA about children viewing such ads. They believed that their customers would all be aware of the regular sexual content within the newspaper, and therefore believed that the newspaper was a suitable media to display the ads. They said there was nothing within the ads that could reasonably be perceived to target children.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld in relation to ad (b) only.

The ASA noted that the ads contained sexually explicit imagery and text, and therefore required careful placement to ensure that they were not viewed by children. We understood that the Sunday Sport was a paid-for newspaper targeted at adult males, which regularly contained similar ads for adult services alongside editorial content which was comparably sexually explicit. Because the newspaper was not targeted at children, we considered that it was unlikely that ad (a) would be seen by them, and therefore concluded that the ad had not been irresponsibly placed on the inside of the Sunday Sport.

However, because ad (b) appeared on the back page of the publication, we considered that, if the paper was left in public places or around the house, the ad could be seen by children. We also understood that the Sunday Sport was usually displayed in retail stores alongside other newspapers in a readily visible position (as opposed to appearing on the top shelf), and therefore the back page was more likely to be seen inadvertently by children. As such, we were concerned that there was a risk that children would be able to view ad (b), and concluded that the decision to place it on the back page of the Sunday Sport was irresponsible.

Ad (b) must not appear again on the back page of the Sunday Sport. We told Worldwide Digital Media not to place sexually explicit ads on the back page of publications where they could be seen by children.


Needless to say, the ban on the back page was not enough for the feminist campaign group Not Buying It! who were 'outraged' that the censors did not also ban sex adverts inside the publication. The group countered with a few angry banners on its website. Eg

not buying it



Big girls blouses...

Advert censors ban Budd Electrical from joking about DD bra size

Link Here7th September 2016

A radio ad for Budd Electrical Ltd, heard in June 2016, stated Yes, everyone's going to Budd Electrical! It's B, U, double D and we all love a double D, right? ... .

Two listeners challenged whether the ad was offensive, because the line It's B, U, double D and we all love a double D, right? was sexist and objectified women.

Budd Electrical Ltd said the ad was intended to be a reference to Double Diamond beer, which was enjoyed by both men and women.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA considered that listeners would understand the double D allusion to be a reference to women's bra cup size. Although the ad was not overtly sexual, it nonetheless drew attention to women's bra cup size, which bore no relevance to the advertised service, and presented women as sexual objects by inviting listeners to focus on their bra size. We considered that the line It's B, U, double D and we all love a double D, right? would be seen to be objectifying women and was therefore sexist and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Budd Electrical Ltd to ensure that their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence.



Rum Decision...

Advert censor bans Captain Morgan from telling the truth that alcohol boosts confidence

Link Here4th September 2016

A TV ad for Captain Morgan rum, seen on 14 May 2016, featured a party on an old-fashioned wooden sailing ship. A man with Captain Morgan's face, from the advertiser's logo, superimposed over his own was shown dancing with friends, upending a sofa so that someone lying on it was tipped off into standing position, and using a rope to swing from one deck to another, as on-screen text stated CAPTAIN THE DANCEFLOOR and CAPTAIN THE NIGHT . The man was then shown posing with one foot on the railing at the front of the ship, with on-screen text that stated PUT YOUR CAPTAIN FACE ON . An image of a range of Captain Morgan products appeared alongside text stating LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN .

Alcohol Concern and a member of the public challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it implied that:

  1. drinking alcohol could contribute to an individual's popularity or confidence; and

  2. the success of the social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged Diageo's and Clearcast's comments that imposing Captain Morgan's face over that of the central figure was intended to link the man's behaviour and experience to the brand's attitude of fun and living life to the full, and to the historical figure that it was named after, and not to represent drinking. While we agreed that the use of the Captain's face associated the character and his actions directly with the brand, we considered that viewers would equate the brand and the character with the product itself. Viewers were therefore likely to understand that the central figure's behaviour resulted from his consumption of Captain Morgan rum.

We noted that the man with the Captain Morgan face was shown dancing next to a band performing, and then dancing alongside other partygoers. We noted that the body language of the other individuals in the scene did not suggest that they were paying any special attention to him and did not emphasise his popularity. In the scene where the man slid down a rope, we noted that two partygoers looked directly at him as he landed, but it appeared as if their attention had been drawn momentarily by someone appearing on the deck beside them and there was nothing to suggest that the man was being regarded with particular admiration. When he struck a pose at the end of the ad, we noted that the scene did not show others being drawn to him as a result. However, we also noted that the man was shown dancing in an uninhibited way, posing triumphantly at the bow of the ship and acting in a mischievous manner (for example, by upending the sofa), which we considered suggested confidence.

Diageo stated that the strapline CAPTAIN THE NIGHT referred to the fact that the man was acting independently, in control of his actions and taking charge of a night out. We acknowledged that his behaviour and interactions with others demonstrated that he was more concerned with having a good time than gaining social recognition, and could thus be seen as acting independently. However, we considered that the use of captain as a verb to mean being in charge or in control carried connotations of enhanced confidence, dominance, and ability to lead others. As such, we considered that the phrase CAPTAIN THE DANCEFLOOR also implied enhanced confidence and abilities on the dancefloor. In that context, we considered that the phrases PUT YOUR CAPTAIN FACE ON and LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN would be understood by consumers as invitations to achieve a confident, uninhibited attitude through consuming Captain Morgan rum. We considered that this impression was reinforced by the image of Captain Morgan products that appeared on screen at the end of the ad alongside the message LIVE LIKE THE CAPTAIN , as well as the repeated use of the word captain , which directly invoked the name of the product in a context of confidence. Although the ad did not explicitly depict drinking alcohol as resulting in a change in the central character's behaviour in a before and after scenario, we considered that the superimposed Captain Morgan face implied that he had already consumed the product and thus linked his confident behaviour to this consumption. We concluded that the ad implied that drinking alcohol could enhance personal qualities and was therefore irresponsible.

2. Not upheld

We noted that the opening shots of the ad showed a ship on which a party appeared to be underway and then a scene of people dancing on the deck, before the man with the Captain Morgan face was introduced. We did not consider that there was any noticeable change in the upbeat, party atmosphere once he appeared. We noted that the party scenes did not show alcohol being consumed, and although we considered that the behaviour of the figure with Captain Morgan's face would be understood as being associated with alcohol consumption, as described above, there was nothing to indicate that his actions had any positive or negative influence on the enjoyment of other partygoers. Therefore we concluded that the ad did not imply that the general success of the party was dependent on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Diageo not to imply that alcohol could enhance people's confidence.



Fear the Censor...

ASA upholds complaint about the scheduling of an advert for Fear the Walking Dead during the film Rango

Link Here24th August 2016

A TV ad for Amazon Prime promoting a horror drama series called Fear the Walking Dead, broadcast on Channel Four on Sunday 10 April during the film Rango at 5.35pm and 6.40pm.

The ad included a voice-over taken from the drama, which stated, Good morning Los Angeles. Hope you got your flu shot. Reports that a strange virus is going around. If you're not feeling well go home and take care of yourself.

The ad showed scenes taken from the drama series, which included posters of a missing woman, a shadowed figure, an unwell man falling down, people running in distress, police and ambulance sirens, people in bio-hazard suits and a frightened woman in a plantation field holding onto a fence. During these scenes, one of the female characters from the drama stated, What the hell is happening?

The ad also featured on-screen text that stated EVERY HORROR ... HAS A BEGINNING FEAR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 FEAR BEGINS HERE ... . Towards the end of the ad was a male voice-over that stated, Fear the walking dead season one. Watch and download with Amazon Prime and take the fear with you.

Three complainants, one of whom reported that their child was distressed by the ad, objected that it had been inappropriately scheduled during a children's film.

ASA Assessment Complaint Upheld

The ASA understood that the ad complained about was for a horror drama series based on a zombie apocalypse. It featured a voice-over that referred repeatedly to the title of the programme and scenes of social disorder and people in distress. The sound effects and music became louder and more intense throughout the ad.

We considered that the overall content of the ad created a build-up of suspense that could be distressing to younger children, but that would not be unsuitable for older children to see. The ad therefore needed to be sensitively scheduled, as required by the BCAP Code.

The ad had been cleared by Clearcast with no timing restriction that prevented it from being shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children. They had, however, applied a code that advised broadcasters that they might want to view the ad to determine its acceptability for transmission in programmes appealing to children under 9 years of age. We noted that Channel 4 stated that their internal system should have automatically flagged up the presentation code and that a member of staff would then have manually applied the appropriate timing restriction. We acknowledged that Channel 4 was now taking steps to improve how they applied timing restrictions and such advice in their future scheduling of ads.

However, broadcasters had a general responsibility to ensure that they exercised responsible judgement on the scheduling of ads. Also they should operate internal systems capable of identifying and avoiding unsuitable juxtapositions between advertising material and programmes, especially those that could distress or offend viewers.

We noted that the ad was shown during an animated film that would have strong appeal to young children. Furthermore, it was scheduled on a Sunday afternoon, which we considered was likely to be seen as family viewing time. Viewers would have expected ads to be scheduled with the family audience in mind and were unlikely to expect to see ads that would be frightening to younger children. The BARB data showed that children made up 218,000 of the 927,000 viewers and that the majority (150,000) were between 4 and 9 years of age. As outlined above, we considered that the ad could be distressing to younger children and concluded that it had been inappropriately scheduled.

We told Channel Four Television Corporation to ensure that ads which were suitable for older children, but could distress younger children, were sensitively scheduled in future



Classic PC lines...

Advert censor bans Hippo Masking Tape advert featuring 40's style glamour model

Link Here11th August 2016

A magazine ad for Hippo Masking Tape from Tembe DIY Products Ltd seen on 16 April 2016, featured a model painting a wall while dressed in a short dress, stockings, suspenders and white high-heels.

One complainant objected that the ad was offensive because it was sexist and objectified women.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA noted that Tembe DIY Products wanted to portray the model in the ad as a 1940/50s style pin-up girl to attract the reader's attention. However, we noted that the ad was marketing masking tape which bore no relevance to the image of the model, whom we considered was depicted in a sexualised way. We noted that she was wearing white high-heels and dressed in a short frilly dress that showed all of her stockings with the attached suspenders and that her bottom was slightly arched outwards while she had a happy look on her face.

We considered that, by using a sexualised image of a woman that bore no relationship to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Tembe DIY Products Ltd that their future advertising must not cause offence by objectifying women.



Offsite Article: Pandering to PC...

Link Here11th August 2016
Opinion Piece: Advertising and the gender debate. By Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive

See article from



Impractically Targeted Ban...

Advert censor finds that Three's Blair Witch Project spoof is too scary for children

Link Here27th July 2016

Four ads for the mobile phone operator Three and the LG G4 handset: A YouTube video; a banner ad appearing on YouTube; and two pre-roll ads on YouTube.

  • a. A five minute YouTube video ad, seen in August 2015, opened with the following text Warning the following film contains scenes of a disturbing nature. Viewer discretion advised. Restricted. Suitable for viewers aged 15 and over . It featured the 15 classification. The ad featured a purple puppet, Jackson, in a car with his human companion, Steve, driving into the woods. The ad cut to a black screen with white writing which said In 2015, Three went into the woods to test the new LG G4. This is what they found . The ad continued to follow Steve into the woods where he saw a mysterious rusting vehicle in the overgrowth. As he approached the vehicle, a doll jumped up at the window, which in turn, made Steve jump. The doll was brandished by Jackson who laughed and said Gotcha Steve! and it's only a bit of fun . Next, Jackson was highlighting the features of the camera and viewers saw a small voodoo style doll hanging down amongst the trees to the right of the shot. Steve pointed this out to Jackson who immediately approached it with the words I love it! Ooooo! . Jackson pulled its leg in delight and said Look, it's a skellington Steve!...

  • b. A banner ad which appeared on 4 August 2015 at the top of the YouTube home page and was a shorter version of ad (a) featured Jackson and Steve. Text at the beginning of the ad stated Three went into the woods. This is what they found . The ad ended and on the left-hand side, it stated Click to watch (if you dare) and on the right-hand side, it included an embedded video link to ad (a).

  • c. & d. Two pre-roll ads on YouTube for the same product featured brief clips of ad (a) and at the end of each ad, it stated Click to watch if you dare , which was a hyperlink to ad (a).

The ASA received three complaints.

  1. One complainant, whose 12-year-old child saw either ad (c) or (d) before a YouTube video, and clicked on the link and was taken to ad (a) and subsequently became distressed by it, challenged whether ad (a) was irresponsible and likely to cause fear and distress to children who saw it.

  2. One complainant, whose 10-year-old child saw ad (b) and clicked on the link and was taken to ad (a), challenged whether ad (b) had been responsibly targeted because it was accessible to children.

  3. One complainant, whose 5-year-old child saw ad (c) before a Minecraft video and became distressed by the ad, challenged whether it had been responsibly targeted because it appeared before a video which was likely to appeal to children.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the complainant's concerns and understood that their child had been distressed by the ad. We also acknowledged the ad included a warning that stated clearly that it was suitable for viewers aged 15 and over and that text underneath the video on the YouTube page highlighted that the content was scary.

Although we considered the ad did not show any acts of violence towards Jackson or Steve, it did create and maintain a heightened sense of suspense throughout. We considered Steve was presented as apprehensive and hyper-vigilant during the ad as to what Jackson and he might find in the woods. The suspense climaxed on several occasions during the ad such as when Steve reeled back from the mysterious rusting vehicle in the overgrowth when the doll jumped up at the window; the voodoo style doll dangling from a tree; the shadowy figure crossing in front of them while they were in the tent; and the girl in the bed who leapt towards the camera and then scurried away across the ceiling. We considered Steve's fear at being in the woods culminated in the final scenes of the ad when he was shown screaming while running through the woods trying to escape.

We considered the ad's content was not excessively shocking for viewers who were 15 years old and above and therefore, it was unlikely to cause distress to them. However, we considered younger viewers were likely to be distressed by some of the scenes, most notably where the girl leapt towards the camera and had blood pouring out of her mouth.

The ad included a warning to state that it contained scenes of a disturbing nature and that viewer discretion was advised. Given this, we considered that Three needed to take steps to reduce the likelihood of the ad being served and shown to younger viewers (i.e. under 15s) when they were using YouTube.

We understood that the ad had been kept away from YouTube content which was suitable for children and videos with gaming content unless they were relevant to the target audience. However, we understood from Three that the ad was subject to inferred targeting, which meant it would have been served to YouTube users whose viewing history suggested they fitted within the intended demographic: over 18s, even if they were not signed into their account. We noted the intended audience and that targeting was based on the viewing histories of YouTube users. Nevertheless, we considered there was the possibility the ad could still be served to children.

By featuring the warning in the ad, we considered Three recognised it might cause distress to younger viewers. We considered also that there could, however, be a risk that younger viewers would continue to watch the ad regardless of the warning. Moreover, we considered the ad's prolonged and heightened sense of suspense was likely to cause undue fear and distress to children. We concluded the combination of the ad's content, and the possibility that the warning would be ignored, meant that ad (a) was likely to cause distress to those younger viewers who saw it. We acknowledged the steps Three had taken to reduce the likelihood of children seeing the ad and we recognised that it was unlikely that they could take steps to prevent all under 15s from seeing the ad. However, we understood that it would have been possible for Three to limit the targeting of the ad so that it was only served to YouTube users signed into accounts belonging to those who had declared themselves to be over the age of 15. In that respect, we considered applying that additional option would have further reduced the likelihood of children being served and watching the ad. While Three had taken steps to target the ad, we concluded nevertheless that it had not been targeted appropriately.

2. Upheld

We understood the complainant's 10-year-old child had become distressed by ad (a), having watched ad (b) and clicking through to ad (a. It was our understanding from Three that ad (b) could not be subjected to any means of targeting and was served to all YouTube users (regardless of whether or not they had signed into their account) on the day it appeared. Therefore, we understood that ad (a), which had been embedded at the end of ad (b), was also available to all YouTube users.

While the content of ad (b) included scenes from ad (a), we considered that its content was milder. However, ad (b) included an invitation for viewers to click here - if you dare and an embedded version of ad (a), which played if clicked on. From the information and content presented in ad (b), we considered children were unlikely to understand that ad (a) might be unsuitable for them, given that they had been able to access and watch ad (b). Ad (a)'s warning appeared after the user had clicked on the embedded video and as noted above, we considered that made clear that its contents were not suitable for under-15s. Notwithstanding that, ad (b) was available to all YouTube users, including those who were not signed into their account. In those particular circumstances -- where all YouTube users were served ad (b) and could click through to ad (a) -- we considered the phrase click here if you dare and the warning which appeared after users clicked through to ad (a) were insufficient to prevent YouTube users under the age of 15 from continuing to watch ad (a). For those reasons, we concluded that ad (b) had not been responsibly targeted and therefore, it breached the Code.

3. Upheld

One complainant's child saw ad (c) before a YouTube video featuring the Minecraft character I am Goldenpants . We noted Three's comments that YouTube did not regard Minecraft to be children's content and we understood that depending on the edition of the game, PEGI (Pan European Gaming Information) had given it various age ratings from 7 to 12. Although it was our understanding that the game Minecraft did not have an audience that comprised exclusively of children, we also understood that it was, nevertheless, very popular among them. Given that, we considered YouTube videos that featured Minecraft gaming content were likely to be of particular interest to children.

We noted ad (a) could be accessed via ad (c) by way of hyperlinked text that stated click to watch if you dare . As stated above in point 2, we considered young children were unlikely to interpret that statement as a warning about ad (a)'s content or properly acknowledge it, given they had been served and had been able to watch ad (c), which featured much milder content.

While we recognised Three had identified and restricted content before which ad (c) should not be shown, the ad still appeared before a video that we considered went beyond broad appeal to YouTube users and was highly likely to be of appeal or interest to children. In that context, we considered that ad (c) had not been targeted appropriately and therefore, it was in breach of the Code.


We told Three to ensure that future ads which were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted.



Offsite Article Legal, Decent, Honest, Truthful?...

Link Here6th July 2016
Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive, opines that there is absolutely no chance that his advertising censorship code can be made to apply to politicians and political advertising

See article from

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