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Advertising News

2009: April-June

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28th June   

Jeans Undone...

New York Calvin Klein poster replaced after whinges
Link Here

Clothing designer Calvin Klein replaced a New York billboard evocative of a sexual orgy with a slightly less sexual ad featuring a dampened bikini model.

The billboard, which was criticized as too sexually provocative, was quietly replaced without comment from the company, the New York Daily News reported.

The original ad depicted a topless woman on top of a shirtless male while kissing another man and a third man, apparently passed out, below them with his shirt and jeans unbuttoned.

The replacement features a model in a string bikini and dripping with water.


24th June   

2D Or Not 2D...

My Bloody Valentine ads rapped for promoting 3D when not always available
Link Here

A TV ad for the film My Bloody Valentine 3D showed clips from the film while voice-over stated Prepare to witness the most terrifying 3D experience to tear through the screens. My Bloody Valentine 3D. It's the ultimate 3D experience only in cinemas. The clips were interspersed with large headings that stated PREPARE TO WITNESS and TERRIFYING 3D EXPERIENCE. The ad also showed scenes inside a cinema auditorium while the film was running. The audience wore 3D glasses. At one point, a character on the screen threw a pick axe which appeared to fly out into the audience. The audience was also shown shielding their faces from flames which emitted from the screen. A large heading at the end of the ad showed the film's title, rating and a website address and stated IN CINEMAS JAN 16. A similar campaign was produced for radio, newspapers and the internet

Viewers challenged whether the ads were misleading because they did not state that in most cinemas the film was shown in 2D and was shown in 3D in selected cinemas only.

Lions Gate UK Ltd (Lions Gate) said that, when promoting the release of the film My Bloody Valentine , they had chosen to promote the 3D version rather than the traditional 2D version. They said that, on the opening Friday (16 January), 90 cinemas were showing the film in 3D and 103 were showing it in 2D. They said that, in the first six weeks of release, 647 cinemas played the film in 3D and 463 played it in 2D.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

We also noted that, although not referred to in the ads, the 2D version of the film was also showing and that, when the film opened, it was the 2D version that was being shown more widely. The 2D version continued to be shown widely during the film's run, although not as widely as the 3D version came to be shown. We considered audiences were likely to be attracted to a 3D showing of the film but that, depending on the stage of the run, there was a strong or considerable likelihood that only the 2D version would be available to them. We concluded that, because they did not state the limited nature of the availability of the 3D version of the film in comparison with the 2D version, the ads were likely to mislead.


18th June   

ASA See the Light...

Duffy Diet Coke advert cleared of unsafe cycling
Link Here

A TV ad for Diet Coke showed the singer Duffy coming off stage. An assistant handed her a can of Diet Coke and said You've got about two minutes okay? Duffy took a sip of coke, climbed onto a bicycle and cycled through the night along quiet streets and into a supermarket. As she cycled she sang, people she cycled past joined in the song. She returned to the concert in time to perform her encore. The on-screen text stated hello you.


  1. 18 viewers challenged whether the ad could be seen to condone behaviour prejudicial to health and safety, because Duffy was not wearing reflective clothing and did not have lights on her bicycle.
  2. 4 viewers challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it risked emulation by children.

ASA Decision: 1 & 2 Not Upheld

The ASA noted Coca-Cola and Clearcast's comments. Although the bike lights were not clearly visible in all shots of the bike, we considered that the transition from the concert, with the realistic sound of the crowd suddenly cut off as the cycling sequence began and replaced with a dreamy vocal track, set the cycling sequence apart from reality. Furthermore, we noted Duffy was shown cycling along empty roads and round a supermarket whilst performing her song, a scenario we considered most viewers would understand was unreal and fantastical. Because of the fantasy context, we concluded the ad did not condone behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.

We noted the ad had been given an ex-kids restriction, which meant it could not be shown immediately before, during, or immediately after childrens programs. We considered the style and treatment of the ad, with its muted tones and relatively long takes was unlikely to appeal to very young children, and older children would understand cycling round a supermarket was not a realistic situation. We concluded the ad was not irresponsible.


11th June   

Antisocial Whingers...

Adidas House Party cleared of antisocial claims
Link Here

A TV ad featured numerous celebrities and young people at a house party.

The opening scene showed a hand picking up a spray can and a young man on a scooter in front of a large mural. Other young people riding scooters and a skateboard were featured. A light then fell to the ground and smashed near some spray cans and a firework went off in the background. The ad showed a party scene inside a house, with the crowd dancing and jumping, and with several shots of well-known musicians and athletes at the party, such as Estelle, Katy Perry, Missy Elliot and David Beckham. Katie White, singer with the Ting Tings, was shown painting on a wall with her hands. Other party scenes showed people DJing and singing, dancing and jumping on furniture, a poker game, a couple falling into a bath, a man whose mouth was being blown open with a leaf blower, girls gesturing and posing, and a man very close to a firework going off. The final scene showed a man jumping in a swimming pool fully-clothed and swimming underwater with several other clothed party goers. On-screen text stated Celebrate originality and showed the Adidas logo.

One viewer objected that the ad condoned and promoted antisocial activities such as spray painting graffiti and dangerous driving on scooters, particularly because it featured celebrities.

Adidas said that they did not believe the ad promoted or encouraged dangerous driving on scooters; the scooter drivers were all wearing helmets and they were driving safely. They felt the ad promoted social activities and inclusion and that celebrities and ordinary people were celebrating together throughout the ad, in a safe, respectful and inspirational way. They said the ad was simply a portrayal of people having fun at a party and they had ensured that no one at the party appeared to be out of control. They said that the ad had a broadcast restriction and was not shown during or immediately after children's programmes.

Clearcast said they wholly endorsed the advertisers opinion and that nobody was seen spraying graffiti. They added that the mural was shown to be artwork commissioned to celebrate 60 years of Adidas rather than a random act of vandalism. They said the scooter driving was safe, with all riders wearing helmets, adhering to the highway code, and with no other vehicles around. They said no celebrities were depicted condoning or endorsing antisocial behaviour, nor behaving in an antisocial way. They pointed out that there was one complaint and, as such, did not believe the ad would cause widespread offence.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad did not show people in the act of spray painting graffiti and that the hand painting on the wall at the party was not on a public building, but in a private residence. We considered that, although the featured mural used graffiti-style art, it was not likely to be interpreted as being the result of an act of vandalism.

We noted that the scooter riders wore helmets and did not appear to break the Highway Code. We considered that the party-goers, whether celebrities or not, were shown enjoying themselves at a party and did not consider they were behaving in a particularly irresponsible manner. We considered that the general atmosphere was congenial and fun, without being excessive, and did not consider that the party activities depicted in the ad were likely to encourage dangerous or antisocial behaviour.

While we acknowledged that some activities might not be appropriate for younger children, we noted that the ad had been given an ex-kids scheduling restriction, which meant it could not be shown immediately before, during, or after children's programs, and considered that reduced the number of unaccompanied children who might see the ad.


10th June   

Nice People Don't Censor...

Advertising company accused of censorship over campaign by Release
Link Here

The charity Release specialises in drugs and drugs law and has over 40 years experience defending the rights of drug users.

Release have lawyers, policy advocates and drugs experts working full time to move our society towards a more sensible approach to managing drugs.

They are trying to get the message across that drug laws unnecessarily target ordinary people noting that:

  • Over a third of adults in England & Wales have used illicit drugs
  • More people have used cannabis than voted for Labour at the last election
  • 13,000 children were arrested for drug offences in 2006/07
  • Over 1 million adults used class A drugs last year

The chief executive of Release has accused an advertising company of censorship after the body's ad campaign was withdrawn from London buses.

Release said it has been told its campaign, which incorporates posters on the sides of buses in the capital that read Nice people take drugs , is to be removed and that the strapline needs to be altered to temper the message before the ads can be reinstated.

Sebastian Saville, the chief executive of Release added that the removal of the Nice people take drugs adverts from buses was an overreaction to a legitimate message.

The charity was told by CBS Outdoor, the billboard advertising company that booked the bus campaign on its behalf, that the inclusion of the words, also or too would make the ads less likely to be attract complaints and ensure they fit non-broadcast advertising codes of practice.

A spokesman for CBS Outdoor told the ads were being take down because of an "oversight" by the company when it booked the campaign. He said CBS should have run the copy past CAP, the Committee of Advertising Practice, which offers advice on compliance with advertising codes of practice.


20th May   

Even a Man Can Do It...

ASA dismisses complaints about Oven Pride advert
Link Here

A TV ad, for an oven cleaner, included a voice-over that stated so easy, even a man can do it . A man was shown raising his eyebrows and making childlike facial expressions whilst a pregnant woman, who appeared cross, stood beside him holding the product. The voice-over described how easy the product was to use and the man was then shown to use it with exaggerated delight whilst being watched by the disapproving woman. The ad ended with the voice-over stating ... let Oven Pride do its thing so he can do more. The man looked aghast at this thought while the woman smiled. The voice-over repeated so easy, even a man can do it. Text on screen at the end of the ad stated Note: no men were harmed during the making of this commercial.

  1. Most of the 673 complainants considered that the ad suggested that men were stupid and lazy. They therefore complained that the ad was sexist and offensive.
  2. Other complainants considered that the ad suggested that cleaning was generally a woman's job. They therefore complained that the ad was offensive and demeaning to women.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA considered that the scenario of a man who did not enjoy cleaning the oven being "forced" to do so by his disapproving wife was portrayed in a manner that was likely to be seen by the majority of viewers as light hearted and comical. The mans behaviour in particular and the "disclaimer" at the end of the ad were clearly intended to be over the top and humorous and both characters childlike behaviour appeared incredulous.

We noted that the ad used mild humour to refer to traditional gender stereotypes but considered that the overall impression was such that it did not portray either gender in a way that stigmatised, humiliated or undermined them by using harmful stereotypes. We noted some might consider the humour in the ad in poor taste but concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

We investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 6.1 (Offence) and 6.6 (Harmful or negative stereotypes) but did not find it in breach.


16th May   

Blocked View...

Australia's advert censors whinges at ad for Classic Double Breast Burger
Link Here

A Nandoís ad has fallen foul of the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau - this time featuring a dim woman whose breasts are so large that she canít see her chips.

A complaint that the ad encouraged discrimination against women was upheld, meaning that the ad - for the Classic Double Breast Burger has been pulled.

ASB CEO Fiona Jolly said: While the Board recognised the intended humour, it also considered a significant proportion of the community would be offended and find there was an element of sexuality and objectification of women that was concerning.


13th May   

Whiter than White...

ASA dismisses complaints about angry bull being purified to white
Link Here

A UK TV ad, for Cravendale milk, showed an animated bull visiting a milk bar. The bull appeared to be angry and demanded milk. After it had drunk every bottle, the bartender sent the bull down a chute to the Cravendale purity room , where its black patches were gradually removed and it passed signs that stated "PURE" and "PURER".

A related magazine ad showed a diagram of a black and white cow next to text that stated "FRESH MILK"; below was a sieve and, below that, a white cow. Text alongside the white cow stated "ONLY PURER". Further text below stated Cravendale is purified to remove the bacteria that turns milk sour. So you get a clean, fresh tasting milk ...

1. Ten viewers, who believed the TV ad could be interpreted as racist, objected that ad was offensive.

2. One of those viewers, and another complainant, who believed the magazine ad could be interpreted as racist, complained that ad was offensive.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted the ads were part of a series where a cartoon style was used; the cows were intended as a visual metaphor for milk which underwent extra filtration processes. We considered viewers were likely to understand that the black and white bulls in the ads were intended as a metaphor for milk and were unlikely to interpret the visual representations of the purification process as being racist. We concluded that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.


12th May   

New UK Advert Censor...

New ASA chief executive
Link Here

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Council has appointed Guy Parker as the new Chief Executive of the ASA.

Guy is presently the ASAís Deputy Director General and Director of Complaints and Investigations. He is also an Executive Committee Member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA).

He will take up the position of ASA Chief Executive on 29 June 2009.

Guy Parker succeeds Christopher Graham, whose appointment as the next Information Commissioner was confirmed by Downing Street last week.

Guy Parker said, During my career at the ASA, Iíve seen it grow into the strong and well-respected organisation it is today. I am honoured to have been appointed Chief Executive and hugely excited about the challenges ahead. Iím particularly aware that in difficult economic times and with rapid technological advances, consumers and advertisers more than ever need the ASA to be firm, fair and on the ball. My focus will be on meeting those expectations and building on the ASAís reputation as a modern and effective regulator.


8th May   

Taking the Biscuit...

Whinges about Mikado biscuit snack TV advert
Link Here

A TV advert was whinged about as sexist for showing a man watching a young woman accidentally photocopying ó up her skirt.

The 30-second ad ó for chocolate biscuit snack Mikado ó has been running on UK TV since the beginning of April.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received 141 complaints from 'disgusted' viewers.

The Ad starts with a Japanese businessman munching on the tasty treat before putting the box on a shelf when a young secretary enters the room.

After he leaves, the women straddles the photocopier in order to reach the goodies but her boss walks back in as she accidentally knocks the copy button with her knee.

The ad ends with the boss watching the woman from behind as the copier flashes several times up her mini-skirt.

A voiceover then says: Mikado - more than a little bit tempting.

The ASA say they are powerless to take the ad off the air because it is shown at night.

A spokeswoman said: The advert is for chocolate and therefore must adhere by the High Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) rules which means it must not go out during shows which could appeal to children. So far the advert is only shown during adult content programmes. We are therefore not investigating the advert.


7th May   

Shifty Advert...

'Stitch Up a Mate' email a little too realistic
Link Here

An e-mail promoting the film Shifty .

On visiting the website for the film, consumers were presented with the option to Stitch up a mate by entering a friend's e-mail address. The website stated that the recipient would not see their e-mail address.

An e-mail was subsequently sent to that friend from the address The subject headline of the e-mail stated CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION and was followed by a reference number that included the recipient's name. The e-mail was in the form of a letter personally addressed to the recipient, and text at the top of the letter stated N.B. A copy of this notice has been sent to the postal address at which you are currently registered under the electoral roll.

Further text in the body of the e-mail stated In a recent operation a subject was arrested with a quantity of class A drugs in their possession. During the post arrest interview the suspect supplied your name to us as a habitual narcotics user. As such you are now at risk of a criminal prosecution based on the information supplied.

However, as part of the Community Drugs Team initiative we are attempting to work with and help people who may have issues with drug use. Under this new initiative it may be possible to prevent further investigation if you are willing to participate in the newly launched ACT AGAINST DRUGS campaign, and submit to counselling and weekly drug testing. If you wish to participate please click on the link below to arrange a date, time and location for your initial interview and first weekly test [the website was given].

If you feel information has been wrongly supplied or wish to appeal against this notice click on the link below [the same website address was given]. If you fail to respond to this e-mail within 7 days of receipt please be aware that this will then become an official matter and there will be a strong likelihood of criminal investigation. It is our aim to help you in the most discreet way possible, however we will require your full co-operation.

The letter was signed on behalf of the London Community Drugs Team.

When the recipient clicked on either of the links in the email they were directed to the website for the film, which stated You have just been stitched up by your friend. If you can't spot a shifty email when you see one ... To stitch up your own friend click here.

The complainant, who received the e-mail at their work address and was concerned that the e-mail could be threat to their employment, challenged whether:

  1. the ad was distressing and irresponsible, because it implied that the recipient had been involved in the use of illegal drugs
  2. the ad was misleading, because it appeared to be an official communication and did not make clear that it was marketing material.
  3. The ASA challenged whether the approach used by the advertisers breached the database rules because recipients had not given explicit consent to receive marketing by email.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

1. The ASA considered that the ad's claims that the recipient was involved in illegal drugs, had been named in a police interview and was at risk of criminal prosecution, as well as the implication that the e-mail had been sent by an official body, could cause alarm and undue distress to some recipients. We also considered that further distress could be caused to recipients were the e-mail to be seen by their employer or friends and family.

We noted that Metrodome had amended the ad to include text at the end of the email that stated If you are still reading this e-mail please be aware this is a hoax sent to you by one of your friends. However, we considered that that sentence was not sufficient to mitigate the possible distress caused by the overall impression of the ad. We acknowledged that Metrodome had withdrawn the e-mail function from their website. However, because we considered that the ad was irresponsible and could cause serious distress, we concluded that that approach should not be used again.

2. We noted that the email appeared to have been sent from the address, and that references to the Community Drugs Team were repeated throughout the email. We also noted that the e-mail contained a reference number that included the recipient's name and stated that a copy of the e-mail had been sent to the address at which the recipient was registered on the electoral role. We considered that that approach could mislead recipients into believing that the email was a communication from a government body or other official organisation. We noted that there was nothing in the body copy of the e-mail, or its subject line and sent address, that identified the email as marketing material, and whilst we acknowledged that recipients who clicked on the community-drugs-team link provided in the e-mail were taken to the film's website where the hoax was revealed, we considered that the ad should have been clearly identified as marketing material without the need to open the email or click on the link. Because it was not we concluded that the ad was misleading.

3. We noted that the film's website did not seek to obtain the explicit consent of the recipient to receive e-mail marketing, or ask the friend who initiated the hoax e-mail to confirm that they had the consent of the recipient. We also noted that the website stated that the sender's e-mail address would be withheld, and we were concerned that it would not be made clear to recipients how and when their e-mail address had been obtained. We considered that Metrodome should have taken steps to satisfy themselves that the recipient was happy to receive e-mail marketing from them, and because they had not we concluded that the ad was in breach.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Metrodome to make clear that future ads were marketing material and to ensure that they had the explicit consent of the recipient to receive marketing by e-mail in future.


4th May   

Pizza plus Free Thai Massage...

New Zealand advert censor reports on ads of 2008
Link Here

A religion-related Tui beer billboard was the most complained about ad in New Zealand in 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) annual report said.

Let's take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ...Yeah Right - Tui, went to No 1 on the ASA 2008 hate list, with 86 complaints, saying it was offensive to Christians, as was the alcohol-religion link.

Dominion Breweries withdrew the Christmas ad, after howls of 'outrage'.

Tui bumped Hell Pizza from No 1, after the fast food company cooked up the most complained-about ads in 2006 and 2007. Hell Pizza only managed No 10 in 2008, with its $25 Hot as Hell direct mail ad. That ad promised a Thai massage with one of its pizzas, if the offer was redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase. The ad showed a photo of a young Thai woman in high heels and a bikini, which 16 complainants said invoked prostitution and was a racial slur to Thais.

In 2008, there were 1246 complaints about 703 different advertisements, up on 1160 and 668 in 2007.

Selection from the 10 most complained about ads of 2008:

  • 1. Tui Beer, billboard. Let's take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ...Yeah Right - Tui. (86 complaints). Settled, when withdrawn by advertiser.
  • 2. Brandex Adventure Sports Ltd, television. Skins sportswear, touting the physicality of African-American athletes, saying they have a warrior mentality and killer instinct . (73). Upheld, racial stereotyping.
  • 5. Advanced Medical Institute, billboard. Want long-lasting Sex?, ad for nasal medication to battle premature ejaculation. (38). Upheld, did not meet due sense of social responsibility.
  • 6. Sky Television, billboard. An ad for a Sky television programme stated, all business considered, even from Jews. (27). Settled, advertisement removed and an apology published.
  • 7. Beds R Us, television. A couple searching for the perfect bed are shown kissing passionately, then the female, clad in underwear, straddles the male. (23). Settled, ad replaced after complaints that sex was being used to sell.
  • 10. Hell Pizza, direct mail. $25 Hot as Hell ad showed a photo of a Thai woman in high heels and a bikini, promising a Thai massage, if the offer was redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase. (15). No grounds to proceed, as it did not meet the threshold to breach the Advertising Codes.


3rd May   

Misleading, Offensive and Harmful...

ASA publishes Annual Report covering censored ads of 2008
Link Here

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) revealed that it had its busiest year ever in 2008, with a record number of ads (2,475) changed or withdrawn as a result of ASA action.

The ASA received the highest number of complaints (26,433) about a record number (15,556) of ads with a 27% increase in the number of formal upheld rulings.

Misleading claims in ads accounted for over 45% (12,942) of the complaints total followed by issues relating to offensiveness (8,831) and then harm (2,926). For the first time, none of the top ten most complained about ads of the year was found in breach of the Advertising Codes.

Encouragingly, of the thousands of ads that were spot checked, the overall compliance rate was a high 97%.

Introducing the Annual Report, Chairman of the ASA Lord (Chris) Smith says British advertising is known for its creativity and the overwhelming majority of ads we see deliver effective messages in a responsible way. It is the ASAís role to respond to public concerns proportionately and with common-sense whilst robustly applying the Codes in areas where people need protecting. In 2008, we delivered on this central duty and made it a priority to keep an active check on sensitive sectors such as financial advertising and price comparisons.


2nd May   

Kiss Temptation...

Advertising censor to investigate sexy ice cream habit
Link Here
Full story: Antonio Federici Ice Cream...Ice cream adverts wind up the nutters

An ice cream advert which shows a glamorous nun about to kiss a priest is being investigated by the advertising watchdog.

The picture promoting a new brand called Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano is accompanied by the tag-line Kiss Temptation.

It is believed to have appeared in a number of publications - including Delicious and Sainsbury's magazines - before bringing a complaint.

Now the Advertising Standards Authority, which confirmed it is looking into whether the commercial has broken regulations, could ban the advert.

The Committee of Advertising Practice rules on religious offence states that portraying nuns in a sexual manner is inappropriate.

Matt O'Connor, Antonio Federici's creative director, said: We thought it was light-hearted and it was not designed to give any offence.


26th April   

Clear Conscience?...

Clearcast consider domestic violence awareness advert too violent for TV
Link Here

TV advertising censors have branded an anti-domestic violence advert starring Keira Knightley 'too shocking' for TV, and are refusing to allow it to be broadcast unless key scenes are cut.

The ad shows the actress returning home from a film set, where she is confronted by a violent boyfriend who accuses her of having an affair with a co-star, before launching into a vicious attack. The disturbing footage ends with Knightley left sprawled on the floor, being repeatedly kicked.

The Cut was made for the charity Women's Aid, and launched in cinemas at the beginning of this month.

It seems pathetic. It is really important to raise awareness about domestic violence, and TV gets into people's homes said Sandra Horely, chief executive of Refuge, a charity that provides accommodation for women and children escaping from domestic violence.

It was hoped that the ad would air on TV this month, but it will now only be seen on British television if scenes showing Knightley being thrown to the floor and kicked are axed.

The reason we are still in conversation with Clearcast about it is because they believe it is too violent, said Chris Hirst, managing director of Grey London Advertising Agency, which created The Cut .

Some believe that Clearcast is being overly cautious in failing to approve the full advert, and that advertisers are reluctant to even try to address the issue for fear of being censored. You can't tread softly-softly on these issues. It is important that we have these public awareness campaigns, and that the message gets to the people affected by it, said the Labour MP Kerry McCarthy.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received just two complaints from the public about the new campaign, both of which were from viewers who saw the unedited version on the Women's Aid website.


19th April

 Offsite: Take Courage...

Link Here
Courage Beer poster banned by the advert censor



13th April   

Hooked on Nonsense...

Vincent Nichols whinges at family planning TV advert plan
Link Here

Vincent Nichols, the newly-designated Archbishop of Westminster, has urge Roman Catholics to oppose new plans to allow abortion services to advertise on radio and television.

Nichols is asking lay members to contest a new initiative which would relax rules on how pregnancy services and condoms can be advertised. As The Independent revealed last month, Britain's advertising censors are considering allowing television ads for abortion.

The Broadcasting Committee on Advertising Practice (BCAP), which covers TV and radio, and the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) have proposed allowing pregnancy services to advertise during prime-time television and to allow condoms to be advertised before the 9pm watershed. Aware that the issue will be controversial, particularly within religious communities, the watchdogs have launched a three-month consultation.

Nichols said: I doubt that any intended adverts about abortion would be fully truthful and tell the whole truth of the effects of abortion on a woman's life. He also attacked the latest condom adverts, calling them demeaning because they promoted casual sex on the street corner and drunken sex. I do not think these things do anything to genuinely help young people to understand themselves in their own dignity and in the proper meaning of what human sexuality is about .

Marie Stopes International, Britain's biggest independent pregnancy advisory service, has said it may consider paying for prime-time adverts and last night it criticised Archbishop Nichols' stance on abortion adverts. A spokesperson said: Advertising condoms and pregnancy advice services could work as a tool to educate young people to be sexually responsible when they are discovering sex. Earlier advertising of condoms and pregnancy advisory services will be a step forward in meeting this aim and may contribute to lowering high rates of teenage pregnancy.

The Terrence Higgins Trust, the country's largest HIV and sexual health charity, said the Church was out of touch with young people.


9th April   

Putting a Smile on your Face...

ASA deflects whinge about orgasmic Durex TV ad
Link Here

A TV ad for durex featured a montage of clips of women who appeared to express sexual ecstasy set to an excerpt from Mozart's Magic Flute . A female voice-over stated Feel like never before. New durex play O. Pleasure enhancing gel for women. durex play, all you need .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 11 pm timing restriction.

A viewer, who saw the ad at 10.05 pm on Channel 4, challenged whether it was offensive and overly graphic to be broadcast.

ASA Assessment Not upheld

The ASA understood that the viewer noticed the ad shortly after 10 pm but was of the opinion that it was unsuitable for broadcast at any time. We recognised the viewer's concern, and appreciated that advertisers and broadcasters needed to be aware of the sensitive nature of ads for this type of product. We noted ME had explained that they felt the ad was unlikely to offend or be inappropriate for those aged over 12 years and we agreed. We considered that this ad was not overly graphic, contained no explicit material and was unlikely to cause offence, provided it was scheduled appropriately.

We understood that the post 11 pm scheduling restriction applied by Clearcast would have helped to avoid exposure to viewers under the age of 12 years. We noted, however, that Channel 4 had broadcast the ad shortly after 10 pm. We checked the audience index figures for the films broadcast before and after the break in which the ad featured and for the break itself, noted that they did not attract a significant proportion of younger viewers, and concluded that neither film had demonstrated particular appeal to younger children.

Although the ad was broadcast by Channel 4 earlier than Clearcast's scheduling advice, in consideration of the child audience index figures for the break and surrounding programming, we considered that it had been scheduled appropriately and was unlikely to cause offence to viewers.


5th April   

Updated: Putting a Smile on your Face...

Sex shop advert winds up Wellington's Archbishop
Link Here

A Wellington sex shop has upset the Catholic Church with a billboard advertisement showing a praying woman with a smile on her face. The D.Vice store's ad shows four parishioners in a church and three of them have their eyes closed and hands clasped. But the fourth, a woman, is smiling and below her is a tagline: Anal beads from $55.99.

Wellington's Catholic Archbishop John Dew told the paper it was unnecessary and distasteful to associate a church with a sex shop device, adding: It is an insult to anyone who recognises a church as a sacred gathering place for believers in God and a place of prayer.

Wendy Lee, a director of D.Vice, said the billboard was meant to make people laugh and not intended to offend.

Update: Family First haven't a prayer of a chance with their whinge

5th April 2009. Based on article from

Nutters of Family First NZ are slamming a Wellington sex shop advertisement as highly offensive and tacky and is perfect evidence of the need to have a pre-vetting procedure on public billboards.

Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ said:

It is completely inappropriate for public billboards to have sex toy advertisements which are both offensive and inappropriate, especially for children to be confronted with, and the church setting simply adds to the offensive nature by offending a sector of our community who would find the ad in particularly bad taste.

A company that associates people praying in church and sex toys is quite simply out to offend.

The only redeeming factor of the Prostitution Reform law was that it dictated the level of advertising that brothels could do, in order to protect children and families from unwanted exposure.

It is time that we applied this principle to all billboards.

Family First NZ will be laying a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority Ė for what itís worth.


3rd April   

Updated: Berserk Censors...

ASA declare advert to be offensive for depicting Pope Paul at nightclub
Link Here

A flyer for a nightclub featured an image of the late Pope John Paul II holding a bottle of beer and dancing with a blonde woman in a short dress. Headline text stated BESERK. Smaller text stated AT THE NEW CLUB FIRE MONDAYS.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality challenged whether:

1. the depiction of the deceased Pope John Paul II was offensive;

2. the ad was particularly offensive to Polish people, because Pope John Paul II was a well-respected Polish figure;

3. the ad was irresponsible, because it linked alcohol to sexual success and could encourage immoderate drinking.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted Warped's intention not to repeat the flyer. Despite their assertion that the ad had been distributed only to those people who were the club's target audience, we nonetheless considered that the depiction of the deceased Pope caused serious offence. Because it had caused serious offence, we concluded the ad was irresponsible.

2. Not upheld

Although we noted the deceased Pope John Paul II was a well-respected Polish figure, we did not consider his nationality was the primary factor associated with his papacy, or that the ad had set out to denigrate Polish people. Whilst we accepted that some members of the Polish community in Ipswich may find the image distasteful, we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause widespread offence on the grounds that the Pope was Polish.

3. Not upheld

We noted the deceased Pope was depicted holding a bottle of beer and dancing with a young woman. However, we also noted that the bottle of beer was not given particular prominence in the scene. We therefore considered its role in the relationship between the dancing figures was incidental, and it was unlikely to be seen as a contributory factor in any perceived sexual success. We concluded the ad was unlikely to encourage immoderate drinking and did not link alcohol with sexual success.

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Comment: Flyers

3rd April 2009. Thanks to Alan

The ASA really makes me wonder. The utter triviality of some of its rulings, like this about the late Pope, is truly astonishing.

They hand down some "ruling" (unenforceable so far as I am aware) after the ad has run its course. It was a bloody FLYER, for freak's sake - a totally ephemeral one off.

Why don't they bother with some of the really iniquitous adverts, like the "Fly FREE!!!!" offers, where the small print reveals the £10 to check in, the £20 to take a suitcase, the £5 for the privilege of paying them your money by credit/debit card, the £20 to sit inside instead of standing on the wing....?


2nd April   

Update: Army of Whinging Clones Denied...

Matrix style fighting in Volkswagen adverts restricted to after the TV watershed
Link Here

A Volkswagen advert with fight scenes inspired by the Bourne and Matrix movies has received a pre-9pm TV ban after more than 1,000 complaints to the advertising watchdog made it the fifth most complained-about UK commercial ever.

The Advertising Standards Authority received a total of 1,066 complaints about the VW campaign, consisting of four TV ads and a cinema ad, featuring a Volkswagen designer fighting a series of running battles against sinister clones of himself.

Complaints to the ASA ranged from the violence in the series of ads, which were all versions of an original, single 100-second commercial, to whether they were unsuitable to be seen when children might be watching and could lead to copycat behaviour.

VW said the struggle in the ads was metaphorical rather than real and that the exaggerated, cartoon-like sound effects and actions were designed to dispel the gravity of the fighting.

However, the ASA ruled against two versions of the TV ad that showed particularly graphic images, including fight scenes using car parts.

The regulator said that the 100-second cut included an opening punch [that was] shocking and set up a series of violent set pieces that included the use of weapons.

In its ruling, published today, the advertising watchdog concluded that the VW commercial needed a further restriction to not be shown before the 9pm watershed.

The ASA cleared all the VW ads of complaints that they specifically targeted children and could lead to copycat behaviour. The cinema ad was also cleared.

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