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Of jock straps and things...

ASA bans Temu adverts including images of a young girl in a bikini.


Link Here31st October 2023

Four display ads and an in-app ad for Temu, an online marketplace:

a. The first display ad seen on a regional online newspaper on 19 June 2023, featured six images in a row. The first image was of a young girl wearing a bikini, the girl was shown looking at the camera, one hand on her hip and the other pushing her hair behind her ear. The second image was of a woman wearing a white halterneck dress, the image was cut so only her torso and arms were shown. The third image was of a silver metallic facial roller. The fourth image was of three balloon tying tools in pink, red and blue colours. The fifth image was a woman wearing a white crop top. Only the woman's chest, arms and midriff were shown. The sixth image was of a grey jock strap.

b. The second display ad seen on a chess website on 18 June 2023, featured six images. The first image featured a woman wearing a burgundy one shoulder jumpsuit that was cut at one side showing part of the woman's midriff, the top of her chest and her left arm. The image was cut just below the woman's eyes, showing the bottom part of her face only. The second image was of padded cycling underwear. The third image was of three balloon tying tools in pink, red and blue. The fourth image was a woman wearing a grey tight fitting jumpsuit. The image was cut to show her face from the eyes down to the top part of her thighs only. The fifth image was of a grey jock strap. The sixth image was a pair of red boots.

c. The third display ad seen on a chess website on 17 June 2023, featured three of the images seen in ad (b); the woman wearing a burgundy jumpsuit, padded cycling underwear and three balloon tying tools in pink, red and blue.

d. The fourth display ad seen on a language translation website on 18 June 2023, featured eight images. Five that were also in ad (b); three balloon tying tools in pink, red and blue, padded cycling underwear, a woman wearing a burgundy jumpsuit, a pair of red boots and a woman wearing a grey jumpsuit. The sixth image was featured in ad (a) and was a woman wearing a white halterneck dress. The seventh image was of a woman wearing a tight fitting pink cat suit, the woman's head was not shown. The eighth image was of a rubber pink foot massager.

e. The in-app ad seen within a puzzle app on the 18 June 2023, featured images of leopard print underwear with the back removed and a woman wearing a short black skirt and tights, only the woman's legs were shown. Issue

The ASA received five complaints.

1. Three complainants, who considered that the content of ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) were sexually graphic, objected that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. One complainant, who believed the pose and clothing of the model in a bikini, sexualised someone who was a child, challenged whether ad (a) was irresponsible and offensive.

3. Two complainants, who believed ads (a), (b) and (c) sexually objectified women, challenged whether they were offensive and irresponsible.

4. Two complainants challenged whether ads (b), (c) and (e) were inappropriately targeted.

ASA Assessment: All complaints upheld.

We considered that ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) taken in their entirety with the accompanying images of the models, and with no explanation or labelling, contained products that were likely to be seen as sexual in nature. The ads appeared in general media where adult themed or sexual products were unlikely to be anticipated. On that basis the ads were likely to cause widespread offence.

We considered that the young model in ad (b) appeared to be a girl of eight to eleven years of age.

The girl wore a two piece bikini. The image was cut off just beneath the bikini bottoms. The girl was posed with one hand on her hip and the other appearing to push her hair behind her ears. The pose was quite adult for a girl of her age and she appeared alongside two other images also in the ad that featured mature women modelling clothing intended for adults.

We concluded that the ad had the effect of portraying a child in a sexual way and was irresponsible.

Ad (a) showed a woman wearing a tight-fitting white dress, the image was cut so only her torso and arms were shown. A second image featured a woman wearing a white crop top and only her chest, arms and midriff were shown. The images appeared alongside a jockstrap and items such as a facial massager and balloon ties, which were phallic in shape and appeared sexual in nature. Further to that the jockstrap, with its accentuated crotch, gave the impression of being sexual, rather than for utility.

Focusing on a person's body while obscuring or removing their face was likely to be seen as objectifying. As the disembodied images of the women wearing tight and revealing clothing appeared alongside items that were likely to be understood as sexual, we considered the women were presented as stereotypical sexual objects.

We considered that ads (b) and (c) featured content that sexually objectified women and ad (b) featured an image of a person under 18 years of age in a sexual way. Therefore they were unsuitable to be seen by audiences of any age, regardless of whether the advertiser had taken steps to target them towards audiences over 18.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Whaleco UK Ltd t/a Temu 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 by presenting products in a sexual way in general media or by presenting individuals as stereotypical sexual objects. In addition, persons who were or appeared to be under 18 years of age in ads must not be portrayed in a sexual way and ads must be responsibly targeted.

 

 

Fans of Eliza Rose Watson...

ASA dismisses complaints about a poster for an OnlyFans model


Link Here25th August 2023

A poster, seen during June and July 2023, featured an image of the top half of model and influencer Eliza Rose Watson posing in a bra top. Text stated @ ELIZAROSEWATSON with the logos of the OnlyFans and Instagram social media platforms.

The ASA received 30 complaints:

1. All the complainants, who understood that OnlyFans was an internet content subscription service which featured sexual adult content, challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where children could see it.

2. Many of the complainants, who believed the ad was overly sexualised and objectified women, also challenged whether the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible.

Eliza Rose Watson said the ad adhered to advertising guidelines and reflected trends in leading brands. The development process took over a month, during which she ensured the ad was tailored to avoid offensiveness to mature viewers and intrigue to the younger generation. The image selected was evaluated by a diverse group, beyond those in the glamour industry. It was deemed to be non-suggestive, not harmful and less provocative than mainstream lingerie or perfume brand advertisements. Ms Watson provided examples of ads for clothing and condom brands which she believed were shown in busier areas of London. She said that, in her experience of social media channels, radio and TV discussions, a significant majority of consumers did not find the ad offensive.

The ad deliberately omitted any explicit website link or call to action, which was intended to veil the OnlyFans platform from those who may not be aware of it or wished to engage with it. The use of the OnlyFans logo was consistent with its appearance in mainstream media. Ms Watson provided images of a racing car and boxer showing the OnlyFans logo being featured on their clothing and car.

Amplify Outdoor said they never intended to cause offense by placing the ads but simply wished to provide a voice to a legitimate business that wanted to use their network. They believed most of the negative comments came with the increased media attention at the beginning of July. They said they had received one complaint direct.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ad featured an image of Eliza Rose Watson wearing a bra top which showed her cleavage. Her hair was tousled over her face and her mouth was slightly open. The ASA considered that although her clothing was revealing, the image did not feature any nudity, and the pose adopted by Ms Watson was no more than mildly sexual.

The ad also featured the Instagram and OnlyFans logos. We understood that the OnlyFans platform featured various kinds of creative content posted by subscribers to its service, including adult sexual content. Therefore, the image of Ms Watson would be particularly relevant to the OnlyFans service, and in keeping with some of its usual content. Both the Instagram and OnlyFans logos were the standard company logos which people who were familiar with those platforms would be familiar with seeing. Although the OnlyFans website featured explicit adult content, the ad did not feature any explicit imagery. The ad promoted Ms Watson and her business on online platforms. It did not contain anything which indicated an exploitative or degrading scenario or tone. While we acknowledged that the image of Ms Watson and reference to OnlyFans might be distasteful to some, we considered that because the ad was not overtly sexual and did not objectify women, we therefore concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad was shown on several posters throughout London, which was an untargeted medium, and was therefore likely to be seen by a large number of people, including children. However, because we considered the ad was not overtly sexual and did not objectify women, we therefore concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and had not been placed irresponsibly.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.1 and 4.9 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.

 

 

ASA's creepy crawler...

The UK advert censor outlines how it scours the internet looking for easy offence and gender sterotypes


Link Here14th July 2023

In this article we want to share more details of the ASA's Active Ad Monitoring system, which uses AI to proactively search for online ads that break the rules.

The ASA is already a proactive regulator. Our expert teams are constantly trying to understand emerging issues and monitor compliance with the rules. But the scale of online advertising makes this challenging and resource intensive. The Active Ad Monitoring system our Data Science team has built sorts through big volumes of ads, delivering intelligence to experts across the ASA and allowing them to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently.

The Active Ad Monitoring system is made up of three components:

  • Ad capture at scale -- The system captures ads from social media, search and display using a mix of public sources, our own internal monitoring tools and proprietary datasets

  • AI-based filtering -- Machine learning models are configured to spot the ads that are most likely to be relevant to a given issue, or to have specific compliance problems

  • Expert review -- Our experts can browse and search content related to their work via a web interface that allows them to quickly assess issues, and identify problematic examples for action

Developing the capabilities of the system is an ongoing project. At the moment it only covers a subset of the issues the ASA is working on. But it is already making an impact in high-priority areas, and currently processes more than 100,000 ads each month.

In the past, we would have relied on limited, labour-intensive manual searches and complaints from the public to stay on top of any non-compliant ads. Today, we use our Active Ad Monitoring system. After capturing ads by relevant advertisers from a range of social media platforms, the system applies machine learning algorithms to identify and flag likely non-compliant ads, for our experts to review and act on.

Each week the Compliance team is presented with an organised list of any ads that the Active Ad Monitoring system has identified as likely to break the rules, with explanations of the issues found. This has enabled us to act quickly, taking follow-up action with advertisers to secure compliance, and working closely with platforms to take down ads where necessary. Overall, the ASA's work, assisted by our Active Ad Monitoring system has already led to hundreds of ads being either amended or withdrawn.

At the ASA we are not just investing in AI, we are committed to creating and deploying real-world applications that lead to fewer non-compliant ads. We are, therefore, continuing to rapidly develop our Active Ad Monitoring system, making it an even more core part of the way we regulate.

 

 

Fatter cats...

Ofcom execs are slobbering in anticipation of the banning of junk food advertising on TV and online


Link Here10th July 2023

Between 21 February and 21 April 2023, Ofcom consulted on proposals for implementing new statutory restrictions on advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products.

The Health and Care Act -- which received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 -- amended the Communications Act 2003 to introduce new restrictions on advertising and sponsorship for certain food and drink products that are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS). These new restrictions apply to advertising on Ofcom-regulated TV and on-demand programme services (ODPS) and also online.

The restrictions:

  • prohibit TV services from including advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products between 5.30am and 9pm;

  • prohibit ODPS from including advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products between 5.30am and 9pm; and

  • prohibit paid-for advertisements for less healthy food and drink products that are aimed at UK users from being placed online at any time.

These restrictions take effect from 1 October 2025.

Ofcom is the statutory regulator with responsibility for advertising on TV and ODPS. Our consultation proposed to:

  • designate the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as a co-regulator for the new prohibition on advertising for less healthy food and drink products in paid-for online space; and

  • amend the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Code and the Broadcasting Code to reflect the new restrictions that apply to advertising and sponsorship on TV.

This statement summarises the consultation responses and sets out our conclusions.

See statement [pdf] from ofcom.org.uk

 

 

Unfit to censor...

ASA advert censors whinge about a jokey Facebook post by Team RH Fitness


Link Here28th June 2023

A post on fitness company Team RH Fitness's Facebook page, seen on 14 February 2023, featured an image of the top half of a man facing the camera wearing a shirt and jacket. The man held a pair of bare legs over his shoulders as though holding a person upside down, with their feet pointed towards the ceiling with text that stated WINE, DINE, 6.99. The number six and the first number nine were highlighted. The image was accompanied by a caption that stated, Wine, dine, and 6.99 [three laughing emojis].

The ASA received five complaints.

The complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it objectified women.

Team RH Fitness said the ad was posted on Valentine's Day with the purpose of being humorous and to demonstrate what consumers could spend their money on when considering romantically related purchases to celebrate the day. They told us that they limited the visual display of sexual activity and used implied sexual activity, imagery, and wording. Furthermore, they believed that the ad was compliant with Facebook's Community Standards. They explained that their Facebook audience is largely made up of women aged between 25 and 54 years old living in the UK and there were numerous comments left on the post from people who found the ad funny.

Facebook acknowledged the complaints but made no further comment.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA acknowledged that only users of 18 years and over were able to download the Team RH Fitness app. We further acknowledged that the ad was posted on Valentine's Day and that comments left on the post indicated that some people had understood the intended humour. However, the image was likely to be recognised as portraying a sex act between a man and a woman, and the sexual nature of the image was compounded by the highlighted 69.

The woman had her bare legs over the man's shoulders and neither her torso nor face could be seen. We considered that the positioning of the woman in this way to be objectifying since her inclusion in the ad served only as a faceless object used for sexual purposes.

Because it included an objectified woman in a sexual position, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence.

 

 

Silence is golden, Harry...

ASA advert censors whinge about sex toy poster referencing Prince Harry's inane prattling


Link Here5th April 2023

A digital billboard ad for a Lovehoney ball gag sex toy, seen on 8 February 2023 at Clapham Junction station, featured an image of a ball gag and large text that stated Silence is golden, Harry. Smaller text underneath stated Spare ball gags available at www.lovehoney.co.uk.

A complainant challenged whether the ad was:

  1. offensive; and

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

Lovehoney Group Ltd said that they did not believe that the ad was offensive.

The ad was launched in response to the release of Prince Harry's memoir. They pointed to the fact the memoir contained a number of indiscreet revelations, some of which had a sexual reference. At the time the ad was published, Lovehoney issued a press release that explained their motivation for the ad and how it should have been understood, which included that it was meant to be humorous and that not all family stories needed to be shared with the public.

2. They did not believe that the ad was inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where children could see it. A ball gag had no explicit sexual reference and its way of use was not readily identifiable without further knowledge. Children would not recognise it as a sex toy, and there was nothing in the ad to change that. Neither the picture nor the text spoke to children and therefore made it uninteresting to them. They would, therefore, either ignore it or, at most, wonder what it was about, yet, without seeing any inappropriate hints. Lovehoney therefore believed that this was insufficient to exceed the threshold of inappropriateness.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ad featured a large image of a ball gag and text that stated Silence is golden, Harry. and Spare ball gags available at www.lovehoney.co.uk. We understood that a ball gag was a sex toy that was placed in the mouth of a person to limit them from talking.

The ASA considered that some people would find the image of, and references to, a ball gag and the implication that it should be used to stop someone from speaking distasteful. However, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Upheld

The ad appeared on a digital billboard at a busy train station, which was an untargeted medium, where it had the potential to be seen by a large number of people, including children.

As referenced above, the ad included a large image of a ball gag and a reference to ball gags in the text in the poster, which we considered inappropriate for children to see. We considered that while younger children were likely to be unaware of what the item was, older children might have greater awareness of what the object was intended for. We therefore considered that the ad was inappropriate for outdoor display where it could be seen by children.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Lovehoney Group Ltd to ensure that their ads were appropriately targeted.

 

 

ASA, a sex-negative community for a life of misery and censorship...

Miserable advert censors offended by JoyClub poster


Link Here 25th January 2023
JoyClub describes itself as sex-positive community for a life of love and lust.

A digital billboard ad for JOYclub, an online sex community, seen in November 2022, in various outdoor locations featured two men and three women lying on top of each other, wearing minimal clothing. At the centre of the image was a woman wearing nipple covers and high cut knickers, exposing her crotch, with each of her legs being held apart by the two men. Large text superimposed in front of the face and body of one of the women said Explore. Connect. Meet. Play. At the bottom of the ad, there was a QR code accompanied by smaller text that stated Explore your kinky side, connect in a safe, respectful space, meet new people and play out your wildest desires.

Three complainants, who believed the ad was overtly sexual, challenged whether the ad was offensive and whether it was irresponsibly targeted because it was displayed in a medium where children could see it.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA was concerned by F&P GmbH's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.

The ad was displayed in various outdoor locations in London, which were untargeted media and where the image was likely to be seen by children and adults.

The ad featured a group of men and women lying on top of each other wearing minimal clothing and the woman at the centre of the image was exposing her crotch, with her legs spread apart by the two men. The text stated Explore your kinky side play out your wildest desires. We considered that the positioning of the individuals was likely to be understood as suggestive of group sexual activity. Taking the image of the sexual positioning and the centre woman's exposed crotch, combined with the references to your kinky side and your wildest desires, 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 or 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.

 

 

Working up a sweat...

ASA censors get all wound up about a Wild deodorant advert


Link Here12th January 2023

A pre-roll ad on YouTube, seen on 5 September 2022, for Wild deodorant, featured a woman sitting up in bed. She seemed to be masturbating under the bedcovers while watching a computer screen. She was interrupted by a talking polar bear which then joined her in bed.

A complainant, whose ten-year-old son saw the ad, challenged whether it had been irresponsibly targeted because it was seen before Minecraft videos which were likely to appeal to children.

Wild Cosmetics Ltd said they had taken care to avoid the ad being shown to a younger audience. They said they targeted their YouTube ads based on users' interests, for example health and beauty, and it was likely that someone deemed a prospective customer had been logged into the YouTube account at the time the ad was shown. They said they did not choose with which videos their ads were shown; this was controlled by algorithm. They said they did not advertise on channels that were clearly aimed at children and would add this channel to their list of exclusions.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

We understood from the complainant that the ad had been shown on the DanTDM channel. The content for this channel included commentary videos about Minecraft, Roblox and Pokemon and was largely, although not exclusively, aimed at children and showed content that was likely to appeal to children. In light of the ad's reference to masturbation we considered that the ad should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of children seeing it.

We noted the advertiser had targeted the ads based on the interests of potential customers and had excluded some channels. However, those exclusions had proved insufficient to prevent the ad from being seen around videos on DanTDM channel, before a Minecraft video. Because the ad appeared before a video likely to appeal to children, we concluded that it had been inappropriately targeted.

We concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.

We told Wild Cosmetics Ltd to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted and that ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children did not appear in media that was likely to appeal to children.


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