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ASA Watch


2019: Oct-Dec

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Political correctness to die for...

ASA bans advert because they read suicide into a man planking against a wall


Link Here11th December 2019

A paid-for Facebook post for Dead Happy, a life insurance provider, seen on 11 September 2019. The profile picture was a laughing skull. The ad stated Sign up for the easiest life insurance money can buy. Get your life insured in 3 minutes. 2 months free: code SKULLMAN and was accompanied by an image of a man leaning the front of his head against a wall with his arms by his side with text which stated ... Life insurance to die for. Issue

The complainant, who believed the ad was alluding to depression and male youth suicide, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive.

Dead Happy Ltd said they were aware that dealing with death was not easy and that they took mental health very seriously. They said the ad was part of a larger campaign where they were focusing on the bizarre and absurd -- for example, one of the ads showed a man wearing a panda head and another showed a man planking against a wall. They said they chose those images based on their ability to stop someone scrolling past them.

Dead Happy said the ad consisted of three component parts: the words; the image; and their branding. Out of the 39 words in the ad, they said they mentioned life insurance three times and life insured once; nowhere did they mention the words depression or suicide. They said the image was found on an internet photograph library which had been viewed and downloaded many times, but there was no connection to depression or suicide. Dead Happy said they sold life insurance and used the phrase life insurance to die for as a strapline for their life insurance product and were in fact suggesting that someone might want or like their life insurance, but they made no mention of depression or suicide. Dead Happy said they covered suicide only after the first 12 months and following a check-in with the customer. Facebook said that they had no comments on the complaint.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that the ad was part of a larger campaign which used images designed to attract attention and that the image was not chosen to highlight any connection to suicide. However, while the ad did not refer to depression or suicide, we were concerned about the image. The young man was alone, leaning forward with his head against the wall and his back to the audience. We considered those elements, together with the shadowing in the image, created the impression that he felt isolated and was in despair. In the context of an ad for life insurance -- which we understood covered suicide -- we considered those who saw the ad were likely to associate the man's posture as alluding to suicidal feelings.

The ad also featured an image of a laughing skull, a two-months' free promotional discount code SKULLMAN and the strapline life insurance to die for, which appeared prominently alongside the man. We considered those elements, taken together and in combination with the image, trivialised the issue of suicide. We considered that by trivialising the issue of suicide and alluding to it to promote life insurance, the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people, including those who had been personally affected by suicide, and was irresponsible.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Dead Happy Ltd to ensure their future ads for life insurance were responsible and unlikely to cause serious offence, for example by avoiding trivialising suicide.

 

 

Clucking censors!...

ASA bans KFC poster. Don't the advert censors know an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken when they hear it?


Link Here4th December 2019

A poster ad and a press ad for KFC:

a. The poster, seen at bus stops and other locations during September 2019, featured the phrase WHAT THE CLUCK?! 1.99 FILL UP LUNCH alongside an image of food items on a menu.

b. The press ads seen in the Metro and the Sun also during September 2019 were the same as the poster except one featured the elongated word cluuuuuck.

Issue

1. All of the complainants, who believed the word cluck had been substituted in place of an expletive, challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were offensive.

2. Many of the complainants also challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.

Response

KFC said the word cluck was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken, which was in context and wholly relevant to the deal, the product featured and the brand.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA understood that the use of the word cluck was a reference to the sound a chicken made and that that was relevant to the product being advertised. We also acknowledged that the ad did not contain the expletive fuck. We recognised that there were several variations of the what the expression, all commonly used to denote surprise or outrage, and not all of which finished with an expletive. The chicken sound effect used to complete the expression in the radio and TV ads in the campaign did not therefore directly substitute for an expletive. However, the written word cluck was used in the poster and press ads and we considered people would interpret that as alluding specifically to the expression, what the fuck. We did not consider that this connection would be removed because an elongated spelling of the word cluck was used in ad (b).

We considered that fuck was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether the ad was featured in a newspaper which had an adult target audience. We also considered it likely that parents may want their children to avoid the word, or obvious allusions to it. The poster was likely to be seen by people of all ages and while we recognised that the press ads would have a primarily adult audience, they could still be seen by children. For those reasons we concluded that the allusion to the word fuck in ads with a general adult audience was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, and that it was irresponsible for them to appear where children could see them.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We KFC to avoid in future alluding to expletives that were so likely to offend.

 

 

Screaming won't help...

Advert censor bans poster for Halloween event


Link Here21st November 2019

A poster and a billboard promoting a Halloween event, seen in Norwich in September 2019:

The poster stated Norfolk's Biggest Scare Experience PRIMEVIL SCREAMING WON'T HELP! and featured an image of a lumberjack holding a chainsaw and wearing a bloodied hessian mask and apron. Further text stated Street Performers, Bar, BBQ, Hot Snacks, Live Music, Refreshments and 17 Nights of Terror -- 5 Frightening Haunts.

Three complainants challenged whether they were likely to cause fear or distress for children and were therefore inappropriate for outdoor display.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted that ads had appeared on outdoor poster sites, and that two of the three complainants had reported their children becoming distressed by the image. We acknowledged that Dinosaur Adventure had replaced the ads after having been notified of the complaints. We noted the lumberjack character's prominence in the ads and the menacing look he gave, baring teeth and showing the whites of his eyes. Alongside the blood-stained apron, chainsaw and mask, we considered that the image was likely to distress young children, and that it was unsuitable for display where it was likely to be seen by them, particularly but not only in combination with the text PRIMEVIL SCREAMING WON'T HELP!, which was presented as though it was written in blood.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Norfolk Dinosaur Park Ltd t/a Dinosaur Adventure to ensure that future marketing that was likely to cause fear or distress for young children did not appear where they were likely to see it.

 

 

Scary censorship...

ASA dismisses whinge about a Halloween event poster


Link Here20th November 2019
From the same advertising campaign but presumably not the poster used at Newcastle station

A poster for Terror in the Trees , a forthcoming Halloween event, seen on 26 September 2019 at Central Station in Newcastle upon Tyne, featured a clown with a sinister looking face and ragged clothes holding a red balloon.

The complainant, who considered the ad distressing for children, challenged whether it was likely to cause fear or distress. Response

Beamish Hall Ltd said they had taken into account that there was no close-up of the clown's face and considered the content was not inappropriate for an ad which promoted a Halloween event. They said they had taken advice from the CAP Copy Advice team.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that Beamish Hall had taken advice from the CAP Copy Advice team, whose view was that the ad was unlikely to be considered a breach of the Code.

We acknowledged that the ad had appeared as an outdoor poster and was therefore likely to be seen by people of all ages. We considered that the dishevelled look of the clown, the bloodied appearance of his nose and mouth and his deep-set eye sockets gave a sinister look to his appearance. However, there were no other elements that we considered contributed more to causing distress, such as threatening facial expressions, violent body language or gory wounds. We acknowledged that the red balloon would be recognised by some adults as a reference to the film IT, but that young children were unlikely to be aware of that association. While we acknowledged that the image would not be to everyone's taste, we considered it was unlikely to cause fear or distress for adults or children. We therefore concluded that the ad was not in breach of the Code.

 

 

ASA bans ad for kids social media app that encourages amassing followers through 'likes'...

But surely healthier than ASA's PC world that encourages amassing followers through complaining, whingeing, victimhood, getting all offended, and bullying others who don't agree


Link Here13th November 2019

A TV ad for PopJam, a social media app designed for 7 to 12 year olds, seen in July 2019 on CITV. An on-screen image of a phone showed an illustrative scroll of a PopJam news feed which displayed various users' PopJam virtual artwork. Large text on the right of the image stated LIKES with a heart emoji and with an increasing figure. The next clip showed an image of a phone with a different virtual drawing on its screen. Large text to the left stated FOLLOWERS with an image of a number rising quickly from 96 to 10,000. A star emoji was seen increasing in size as the figures increased. A female voice-over stated, Get likes and followers to level up.

A complainant, who was concerned that the ad's encouragement to get likes and followers to level up could be detrimental to children's mental health and affect their self-esteem, challenged whether the ad could cause harm to those under 18 years of age and was irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that PopJam was an app designed for 7- to 12-year-old children and that the ad was seen on a children's TV channel. The ad featured the claim get likes and followers to level up, which we considered explicitly encouraged children to seek likes and followers in order to progress through the app. We understood that there were other ways of advancing through the app, but that was not explained in the ad. We considered that the suggestion that the acquisition of likes and followers was the only means of progression was likely to give children the impression that popularity on social media was something that should be pursued because it was desirable in its own right. We were therefore concerned that the ad's encouragement to gain likes and followers could cause children to develop an unhealthy perception that popularity on social media was inherently valuable which was likely to be detrimental to their mental health and self-esteem. As such, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause harm to those under 18 and was irresponsible.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told SuperAwesome Trading Ltd t/a PopJam not to use the claim get likes and followers to level up in future and to ensure that they did not suggest that gaining popularity and the acquisition of likes and followers were desirable things in their own right.

 

 

BooHoo...

Humourless advert censor bans fashion advert for jokily alluding to sexting


Link Here16th October 2019

A marketing email from Boohoo, received on 15 July 2019, featured the subject heading Send Nudes. The body of the email contained a photo of a female model wearing a beige jacket with the words Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues written across the image.

A complainant challenged whether the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible.

Boohoo.com UK Ltd said that their use of the word nude was solely to describe the colour resembling that of the wearer's skin. They said they targeted their customers by sending them the latest fashion trends, including the trend for nude colours. They said that the word was widely used by other retailers in relation to apparel. The Boohoo brand targeted customers aged 16 to 24 years old. To sign up to Boohoo's website, the terms of use stipulated that the individual must be at least 18 years of age. The ad was sent to individuals who had agreed to Boohoo's terms of use. It should not have been sent to any individual under 16 years of age.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the term nude was commonly described to refer to colours that were similar to some people's skin tones. At the same time, the phrase send nudes was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment. We noted that increased pressure to share such photos had been linked to negative outcomes for young people. Boohoo's target market was aged 16 to 24. We noted that the ad had only been sent to those who self-declared that they were over 18, but online age was often misreported, and we had not been provided with details of any further steps Boohoo had taken to reduce the likelihood of under-18s being targeted with the ad. Given the general price point of Boohoo's clothing and the age of the target market, there was also likely to be some overlap with even younger teenagers who aspired to looks associated with a slightly older age group. While the ad played on a well-known phrase to highlight a fashion trend, we considered the specific reference chosen had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend. Furthermore, in the subject heading of an email, without any further context, the phrase send nudes was likely to be disconcerting for some recipients, particularly those who might have personal experience of being asked to send nudes.

In the context of an ad aimed at a relatively young audience who were more likely to be harmfully affected by pressure to share sexual images of themselves, we considered that the reference to send nudes was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Boohoo.com UK Ltd to ensure their ads were socially responsible.

 

 

Weapons of mass distraction...

ASA chastises Burger King for jokingly offering their milkshakes as ammunition against PC baddies


Link Here2nd October 2019

 A tweet on Burger King's Twitter page, seen on 18 May 2019, included the text Dear people of Scotland. We're selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying

Twenty-four complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive because they believed it encouraged violence and anti-social behaviour.

 Burger King responded that the tweet was intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures. Burger King stated that it did not endorse violence and that was made clear with a follow-up tweet posted after responses to the tweet under complaint. The follow-up tweet stated, We'd never endorse violence -- or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ad was posted the day after a branch of McDonalds Restaurants in Edinburgh had chosen not to sell milkshakes or ice-cream products during a nearby political rally addressed by Nigel Farage, because milkshakes had been thrown at political figures in recent weeks. Those events had been widely reported in the media and we therefore considered that people who saw the tweet were likely to be aware of what had happened and that Nigel Farage was due to make more public appearances in Scotland that weekend. In that context we considered that the ad was likely to be seen as a reference to the recent incidents of milkshaking political figures. Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser's competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to milkshake Nigel Farage. We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.


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