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Advertising News

2009: July-Sept

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27th September   

Blessed with Powers to Mislead...

ASA unimpressed by unsubstantiated claims about anointing oil
Link Here

A poster, for spiritual support from Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), included a testimonial, from a woman, who said My son was born with a heart problem. After a party he started bleeding from the mouth. I rushed him to hospital and the specialist said he had 16 loose arteries. He went into a coma, his heart stopped and both his lungs collapsed. Doctors and specialists expected him to die. At the UCKG I was given some blessed oil to anoint my son with. Now that his heart and lungs are better I thank the UCKG for all the spiritual support I received . Further text stated: The Holy Anointing This Sunday at 9.30am .

A footnote stated In accordance to the CAP Code, point 50.3, the UCKG HelpCentre's spiritual advice is to be seen as a complement to scientifically proven treatment you may be receiving. The UCKG does not claim to heal people but believes that God can through the power of faith. Always follow your doctor's instructions.

Issue 1. The British Humanist Association and two members of the public challenged whether the UCKG could substantiate the implied medicinal claim.

The ASA challenged whether:

2. the ad was irresponsible and likely to discourage people from seeking qualified medical advice by offering advice on the treatment of a serious medical condition; and

3. the reference to the CAP Code was an implied endorsement of the ad.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the testimonial explained the medical difficulties experienced by the woman's son and that the medical staff involved in his treatment expected him to die. Although we considered that that made clear that proper medical treatment had been sought, we noted the testimonial also emphasised that UCKG had provided blessed oil to anoint the child with before he subsequently recovered. We noted the UCKG argued that the ad made clear, in both the testimonial and explicitly in the footnote, that they offered only spiritual support and noted UCKG had previously sought CAP Copy Advice over the use of the term. However, although we considered that it was a reasonable way to describe the support UCKG offered, the surrounding claims also went further. We considered that some readers were likely to infer from the ad as a whole that anointing oil had played some role in the sons recovery. Because UCKG had sent no evidence to support such an implication, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.

2. Upheld

We noted the ad referred to a serious medical condition. Although the testimonial explained that the woman had sought medical treatment for her son's condition, we considered that, because some readers were likely to infer from the ad as a whole that anointing oil had played some role in his recovery, the ad could discourage people from seeking essential treatment by implying that the oil had a curative effect. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.

3. Upheld

We noted the footnote stated In accordance to the CAP Code, point 50.3 ... and considered that readers were likely to infer from that that the ad complied with that CAP Code clause. We considered that that was likely to be seen as an endorsement by CAP, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 14.6, and concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form.


26th September   


Some French politicians want all public photos to be labelled as 'photoshopped'
Link Here
Full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

The French parliament has held its first hearing of a proposed law that would require every advertisement to display a disclaimer telling the public that images of people were manipulated. The goal is to help cut down on body issues in adolescents, and violating the law could be costly.

Lawmakers are concerned about the effect that Photoshopping has on people's body images. As a result, one such member of parliament, Valerie Boyer, has proposed a law that would require enhanced images to sport a warning, making it clear that viewers are not looking at an unretouched image.

A proponent of anorexia and bulimia awareness within the French government, Boyer believes that the disclaimer would help bring youngsters back to reality and promote a healthier body image for all. These photos can lead people to believe in a reality that does not actually exist, and have a detrimental effect on adolescents, Boyer said in a statement this week: It's not just a question of public health, but also a way of protecting the consumer.

It's not just Boyer who believes this, either. Fifty other French politicians have gotten behind the proposed law, which would require all enhanced photographs to read: Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person. This would not only apply to advertisements, it would also apply to press photos, political campaigns, art photography, and photos on product packaging.


19th September   

F**K the ASA...

ASA whinges at SMS ad with the text 'F**K'
Link Here

A text message from the Ruby Lounge and Cellar 35 venues stated F**K EXAMS! FREE ENTRY B4 11:30, FREE SHOT b4 12 wit [sic] text, TONIGHT! @ Ruby Lounge & Cellar 35. £1 vodkamxr, Sambuca. Rm1. Pop & Rnb. Rm2. House & Electro. Pass it on.

A complainant, who was 17 years old and the recipient of the text message, challenged whether:

  1. it was irresponsible, because it was sent to under 18-year-olds
  2. the text "F**K" was offensive
  3. it had been sent unsolicited.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA was concerned by Ruby Lounge's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 2.6 (Non-response). We reminded them of their obligations under the Code and told them to respond promptly in future.

1. Upheld

The ASA understood that the complainant was concerned that the nightclub had used alcohol as an incentive for their free entry offer because he was 17 years old and, therefore, under the legal drinking age.

We noted the text message referred to FREE SHOT and £1 vodkamxr, Sambuca following free entry into the nightclub and were concerned that it had been sent to someone under the age of 18. We reminded Ruby Lounge that the Code required marketers to take all necessary steps to ensure that marketing communications were suitable for those targeted and, in the absence of any satisfactory explanation from them, concluded that the message was irresponsible.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 43.2 (a) (Database practice).

2. Upheld

We understood that the complainant was concerned that the text "F**K" could cause offence, particularly to minors. We considered that, in the context of an unsolicited text message, it was likely to cause offence.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency).

3. Upheld

We referred to the CAP Code, which specified that the explicit consent of consumers was required before marketing by SMS text transmission. We understood that the complainant had not been asked for or given consent for his telephone number to be used by Ruby Lounge for marketing purposes and concluded that the message had therefore breached the Code.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 43.4 (c) (Database practice).


17th September   

Danish Mother Seeking...

YouTube tourist video pulled
Link Here

Denmark's tourism agency has removed one of its advertisements from YouTube after complaints that it promoted promiscuity in the liberal Scandinavian country.

The video clip, nearly three minutes long, showed a young, blonde woman cradling an infant called August and saying he was the result of a brief fling with a foreign tourist.

Speaking English in the video, she said she was trying to find August's father through Google's YouTube website.

An investigation by a Danish TV channel clarified that the scene was staged and the woman was an actress.

Karen Sjoerup, a sociologist, said the advert suggested that you can lure fast, blonde Danish women home without a condom.

Lene Espersen, economy minister who also holds the government's tourism portfolio, said the video presented a not very well thought out picture of the country. The recording was posted by VisitDenmark last Thursday and before being removed on Monday, it had clocked up more than 800,000 hits on YouTube.

Dorte Kiilerich, the manager of VisitDenmark, initially described the video as the most effective thing we have ever done to market Denmark but later offered an apology: I regret that the film has offended so many people.


16th September   

Update: Perfect Storm...

Advert censor whinges at lap dancing poster
Link Here
Full story: Lap Dancing in the North West...Moralists around Manchester, Liverpool and Carlisle

A poster, for Perfect 10s gentlemens club, featured an image of a woman, naked except for a small pair of knickers which were pulled down around her hips. The ad featured the text Say hello to my new boobs for the first time here at Perfect 10s covering her breasts. The ad also featured three smaller images of other women in their underwear in sexually provocative poses. The text at the bottom of the ad stated Its our 7th Birthday! Party with guest models Gemma Massey & Dani Thompso".

Ten complainants objected that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA considered that the images in the ad were explicit and were likely to be seen as sexually provocative. We noted that they appeared on a poster, which was an untargeted medium and situated near to a public space and where they could be seen by children. We concluded that the sexually suggestive nature of the images meant that they were likely to cause serious or widespread offence to adults in an untargeted medium and were unsuitable for public display where they could be seen by children.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 and 5.2 (Offence). The ad must not appear again in its current form.


15th September   

Censorship on Demand...

Ofcom consult over VOD regulation and censorship
Link Here

Ofcom have published a consultation on the future regulation and cenorship of Video on Demand (VOD) services.

Under revised European law, content on VOD services such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player, SkyPlayer and Demand Five will be regulated from 19 December 2009. Such services are available through Virgin Media, Sky and BT Vision as well as through the internet.

Regulation of these services is a requirement of the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive and covers all VOD services which are, according to the Directive, TV-like. The Government plans to give the overall duty to regulate these services to Ofcom.

Electronic versions of newspapers, private websites and unmoderated user generated material (hosted on services such as YouTube) will not be regulated.

Industry Bodies ATVOD and ASA

Ofcom is consulting on its proposal that two bodies carry out most aspects of the regulation on its behalf: Ofcom proposes that VOD services are regulated by the industry body, the Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD), and that advertising included in those services, is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

But VOD programming would not be subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, which broadcast services currently licensed in the UK have to observe

Under the proposed co-regulation, Ofcom will have back-stop powers to intervene if the new co-regulatory system does not work effectively and Ofcom will also retain the power to impose sanctions against service providers.

Content Censorship

Under the proposals for consultation ATVOD would regulate VOD services and would be required to ensure that programming on VOD services adheres to a number of minimum standards from the Directive which will be set out in UK legislation. Programmes, for example:

  • must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality
  • must not provide material which might seriously impair the physical, mental, or moral development of minors unless it is made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such content
  • sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements.


Since 2004 the ASA has regulated TV and radio advertising in the UK under a co-regulatory agreement with Ofcom. Under the proposals for consultation the ASA would regulate the advertising on VOD services.

The new legislation requires that advertising on VOD services must also comply with a number of minimum standards. For example:

  • advertising must be readily recognisable and cannot contain any surreptitious advertising or use subliminal advertising techniques
  • advertising must not encourage behaviour that is prejudicial to the health or safety of people
  • tobacco products, prescription-only medicines or medical treatments cannot be advertised.

Viewer complaints

Under Ofcom's proposals any complaints that viewers have about video material that they feel has breached these rules will be assessed by ATVOD or the ASA.


BBC content is jointly regulated by the BBC Trust and Ofcom.

Content on the BBC iPlayer will be subject to these new regulations but as with other BBC content will be regulated by the Trust and Ofcom and not under the proposed co-regulatory arrangements.


Our consultation closes on 26th October 2009. See further details here


12th September   

Update: Rant On...

Belfast church wins right to challenge advert ban on the use of Leviticus quotes against sodomy
Link Here

A Belfast church has won the right to legally challenge a decision to ban a newspaper advertisement which described sodomy as an abomination.

Sandown Free Presbyterian Church took the full-page advertisement, which was headlined The word of God against sodomy, in the News letter. It appeared in the paper once ahead of last year's Belfast Gay Pride parade.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority banned it from appearing again after receiving seven complaints. The authority said the advertisement was homophobic.

The High Court has now said that there was an arguable case that the church's rights to religious belief and freedom of expression had been breached. Mr Justice Weatherup also found that Sandown may have been denied the chance to offer an explanation to the Advertising Standards Authority before the ban was imposed.

Lawyers for Sandown said the case centred on his client's ability to use the Bible in its public witness teaching. They claimed the authority was mistaken in its interpretation of a quotation from the Book of Leviticus which described homosexual acts an abomination. They said the description applied to sodomy itself rather than any individuals: This is the classic evangelical position between loving the sinner and hating the sin .


11th September   

Mass Censorer...

AIDS is a mass murderer ad pulled from YouTube
Link Here

A controversial ad that uses Hitler to scare viewers away from unsafe sex was pulled from YouTube, according to news reports.

The Regenbogen (Rainbow) Association ad features a steamy sex scene in which the face of Hitler, heretofore a disguised lover, suddenly leers at the viewer, followed by the message AIDS is a mass murderer. It is due to air later in September on German TV.

The association's web site also shows poster designs featuring Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin, each with a naked woman, under the same slogan.

YouTube citied possible violations of terms of use for pulling the ad. Earlier, Regenbogen director Heiko Schoessling said the shock ad was needed to bring home the message that AIDS cases are on the rise.

But Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the French news agency AFP that while the ad might gain attention for an important issue, it was an insult to the victims of the Nazi era, among them gays and lesbians who were sent to concentration camps in the thousands.


11th September   

The Organisers...

ASA bans advert with image of child in bikini
Link Here

An internet banner ad appearing on titled The Organisers. Operation Bikini. The ad featured an image of an adult woman alongside a young girl posing with her hand on her hip. Both were dressed in bikinis.

The complainant challenged that the ad was offensive because it showed a young girl in a sexually provocative pose.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the banner ad was a portion of a larger campaign ad by NH Hoteles. However, the banner ad appeared in isolation on and we did not agree with NH Hoteles argument that it would be seen as part of the campaign as a whole. We acknowledged that some readers might think the image of a child in a bikini acceptable in the context of an ad for a holiday. However, we noted the young girl was not shown in a typical holiday scenario appropriate for her age, but rather shown in a bikini, striking a pose akin to that of a fashion model alongside an adult model. We considered that the image was likely to be seen to sexualise children in an irresponsible manner and therefore to cause offence.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility), 5.1 (Offence) and 47.2 (Children). The ad must not appear again in its current form.


9th September   

Update: Bruno Gets Hard...

Bruno a wind up in Hong Kong
Link Here
Full story: Sacha Baron Cohen Movies...Supporting the hype for Bruno

A promotional poster for Bruno has been deemed too risque by an advertising agency that banned the ads from the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway system.

The comedy and all its promotional material had been approved by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, Hong Kong's ratings administrator, with the film rated Category III (restricted to people over 18) and the advertising material rated Category I, suitable for all ages.

The ad agency has taken offense at a term in the film's translated Chinese title, a pun that means both definitely deceive and make hard in Chinese.

It's standard practice for us to censor the advertising materials when we receive them, even after they've been approved by TELA. We're uncomfortable with the wordings, and are concerned that it might affect the passengers, so we decided to reject the ad, Amy Chan, deputy managing director of JCDecaux told The Hollywood Reporter. The admittedly conservative agency has asked the film's distributor, Panorama, to change the wording, a request the distributor refused to accept.


4th September   

Update: Nail Everything you Can...

TV Advert censor bans Peta's Sex Talk
Link Here
Full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

A TV ad called Sex Talk that animal rights advocates Peta planned to air across Britain has been rejected by TV advertising authority Clearcast as being unacceptable on the grounds of offence.

Peta's 30-second ad, which has already aired in several markets across the US, features two parents encouraging their teenage daughter to become sexually active.

The father says Get out there and nail everything you can and the mother follows by saying If it's got a pulse you should be wrapped around it.

When the horrified girl asks But what if I get pregnant? , her parents tell her to pop out all the kids she wants. We can leave them in the shelter, dump them in the streets ... whatever.

The ad ends with the strapline: Parents shouldn't act this way. Neither should people with dogs and cats. Always spay or neuter.


3rd September   

ASA Add to the Climate of Fear...

Advert censor whinges at 23 year old model who they claim looks under 16
Link Here

An ad, for American Apparel (AA) clothing, which appeared on the back cover of Vice magazine, was headlined FLEXFLEECE Ryan wears the classic unisex Flex Fleece zip hoody .... Below were two rows each consisting of three photographs of a young looking girl wearing the hoody and looking directly at the camera. In the first row, she was wearing the hoody zipped up and appeared to be wearing underpants. In one photograph, she was wearing big-framed glasses.

In the second row, she was wearing the hoody unzipped and was naked underneath. She was wearing underpants and wore the glasses in two of the photographs. In the last photograph, her left nipple was partially exposed.

The complainant challenged whether:

1. the depiction of nudity in the ad was offensive and unsuitable to appear on the back of a free magazine that could be seen by anyone, including children;

2. the ad was offensive and inappropriate, because the model seemed young and vulnerable and could be seen to sexualise a child.

ASA Assessment:

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the free magazine targeted 18- to 34-year-olds and the editorial content was of an adult nature, featuring articles on culture and sex. We noted the ad appeared on the back cover of the magazine but also noted that the magazine was primarily distributed through channels which greatly reduced the chance of it being seen by children. We considered that the depiction of nudity in the ad (ignoring the age of the model which is dealt with in point 2 below) was not so overly gratuitous as to make it unsuitable for or likely to cause serious or widespread offence to the target audience. We concluded that, given the targeted medium, the depiction of nudity was acceptable for the back cover of Vice magazine.

2. Upheld

We noted the model was 23 years old and had been styled without make-up to give a natural look. We nevertheless considered that she appeared young, and in some of the pictures, looked under 16. We did not however consider that she appeared especially vulnerable.

While the ad depicted only partial nudity, we considered that the images were provocative with the model exposing progressively more skin in each photo in the series. We considered that the photographs suggested that she was stripping off for an amateur-style photo shoot.

Because the ad could be seen to sexualise a model who appeared to be a child, under the age of 16 years, we concluded that it was inappropriate and could cause serious offence to some readers.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 (Taste and decency).

The ad must not appear again in its current form.


31st August   

ASA Payne...

ASA whinge at TV advert for Max Payne DVD
Link Here

A TV ad, for the DVD of the film Max Payne , showed scenes from the film, which included a character loading a shot gun, explosions, a woman removing her top and another woman in bed, as well as several characters who fired a range of guns. Text on screen, which was also shown with images of guns, stated MORE HEAT MORE PAIN HARDER CUT. A voice-over at the end stated Max Payne harder cut. Out on Blu-ray and DVD now.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 19.30 scheduling restriction.

One viewer, who saw the ad at 20.45, complained that the ad was too violent to be shown at a time when children might be watching.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the ad did not show physical contact or violence occurring directly between the characters. We noted that there were guns and shooting but considered the overall impression of the ad was one of fictional content of an action gangster film. The presence of guns in that context were unlikely to be interpreted as a suggestion that the use of guns in real life was acceptable. We considered the ad did not encourage or condone violence or cruelty and was unlikely to be seen to glorify guns.

We considered that the ad was unlikely to cause mental harm to children, because it did not present violence in a way which was likely to be seen as condoning comparable behaviour in real life. However, because it showed some violence and several scenes involving guns and shooting, we considered the ad was inappropriate for young children and a post 19.30 restriction was not therefore sufficient. We concluded that a post 21.00 restriction would have minimised the possibility of young children seeing the ad.


31st August   

Unappealing Advert Censor...

ASA review their appeals process
Link Here

Britain's advert censor is launching a review of its operations following concern from advertisers that it is too difficult to overturn rulings against their ads.

The Advertising Standards Authority review will cover areas such as its processes for handling an ever-growing number of complaints and how appeals against its rulings are judged.

Outside consultants will conduct the review for the ASA, which is expected to be completed by the first half of next year.

The review also coincides with a review of the UK's advertising codes currently taking place and the likelihood that the ASA's remit will soon be extended.

An ASA spokesman said: It's a good time to take stock of how our systems work. It will cover everything from how complaints are handled to how investigations are carried out and how the ASA council makes its decisions.


30th August   

Bond Banned...

James Bond style gun ad banned by the advert censor
Link Here

A regional press ad, in the London Evening Standard, for Klaus Kobec watches.

The ad featured an image of a man pointing a small gun towards the reader. This fabulous new gentleman's watch is not only suave and sophisticated, it's incredibly sexy looking too. With its nostalgic face and exceptionally robust stainless steel body it attracts admiring glances wherever it's worn.

Four complainants objected that the ad, in particular the image of the gun pointing towards the reader, was offensive and glamorised gun crime and violent behaviour.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA considered that James Bond was likely to be seen as a glamorous, suave character with an aspirational lifestyle. Although we acknowledged that the ad used a play on words associated with the Bond theme, we noted the image of the gun featured prominently in the ad and focussed on the barrel of the gun rather than on the mans face or character. We considered that, especially because the gun was pointing directly toward the reader, the ad was likely to be seen as glamorising gun culture and violence.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code and must not appear again in its current form.


15th August   

Whingeing Basterds...

ASA receive complaints about poster for Inglourious Basterds
Link Here

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is being investigated by the advert censors over complaints about the film's posters.

The title was always going to have a hard time with censors, even with its incorrect spelling. Cynics believe it was done so it wouldn't have problems during its advertising campaign.

However, that doesn't seem to be the case. The Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) has received complaints from the public over the adverts, which features the 'controversial' title and swastikas emblazoned on the posters.

The general nature of the complaints is that the ad is offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children, said an ASA spokesperson: We are currently looking into the complaints and establishing whether there are grounds for an investigation.

Curiously, there are several posters dotted across the UK that have either the second part of the title absent or the words The New Film by Quentin Tarantino in place of Inglourious Basterds.

TV ads have followed suit, with no mention of the full title pre 10pm. By comparison, advertising in the US is free to use the full film title, Inglourious Basterds on TV and poster campaigns.


13th August

 Offsite: Reefer Madness...

Link Here
Whinging at adult phone ads in computer games magazines

See article from


4th August   

Obsessed about Body Image...

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise...BUT...
Link Here

Airbrushing should be banned in advertisements aimed at children to tackle body image pressure , say the Not So Liberal Democrats.

Altering photos to make them look better means children are subjected to completely unattainable images , said front-bencher Jo Swinson, herself dubbed the Makeover Queen due her obsession with body image.

The Not So Liberal Democrats have put forward measures aimed at protecting women and girls from pressure about their weight, and to promote healthy living. The party also says body image and media literacy should be taught in schools and more sports activities offered to stop teenage girls dropping out of exercise.

Among other proposals are for success rates to be included on cosmetic surgery adverts and for local sports centres to be made more female friendly by being cleaner and safer. The party also wants cosmetic surgery adverts to give their success rates.

Ms Makeover said airbrushing should be banned in advertising aimed at the under 16s and should be clearly flagged up in adverts aimed at adults.

She said young girls in particular were under increasing pressure due to completely unattainable images that no-one can live up to in real life. The focus on women's appearance has got out of hand - no-one really has perfect skin, perfect hair and a perfect figure, but women and young girls increasingly feel that nothing less than perfect will do .

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise ...BUT... we also believe in the freedom of young people to develop their self-esteem and to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies. They shouldn't constantly feel the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated shapes and sizes.

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority said airbrushing was not an issue it received many complaints about.

If images had been altered to the extent they were misleading, that was when the ASA would step in, he said: We don't get a lot of complaints about it . Consumers know there has been alteration in some of the images, maybe that is why consumer complaints are quite low.


27th July   

Update: Playing the Advertising Game...

Advertising codes for video games updated in response to Tanya Byron's recommendations
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Dr Tanya Byron's review, Safer Children in a Digital World ,  looked at the advertising of video games, its effect on children and the clarity of guidance to the industry.

Advertising codes are the responsibility of two industry Committees independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA):

  • the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
  • the Broadcast Committee of Practice (BCAP)

The Review made two recommendations to the advertising self-regulatory system, specifically on its rules and guidance:

  • …that the video games industry and the advertising industry should work together to ensure consistency of approach between advertising self-regulation and the video games classification systems
  • … that the advertising and video game industries, and those responsible for the classification of video games should work together to produce CAP and BCAP guidance on the advertising of video games.

The Review also highlighted the granularity of codes and guidance relating to ads for video games and encouraged CAP and BCAP to introduce, during the Code Review, placement and scheduling restrictions on ads for age-rated video games.

The ASA, CAP and BCAP have now actioned Byron's recommendations:

  • In 2008, the ASA conducted a Video Games Advertising Survey to assess the compliance rate of advertising for video games against the Codes.
  • In its Code Review consultation, BCAP proposed a new scheduling rule for ads for video games, which mirrors the scheduling restrictions already in place for ads for films and videos. The proposed rule would prevent video games carrying an 18+, 16+ or 15+ rating from being advertising in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16.
  • CAP and BCAP have compiled new Guidance, which is intended to help advertisers and media owners on both broadcast and non-broadcast ads for video games. The Guidance draws together all of CAP and BCAP's existing guidance on ads for video games and films, as well as lessons from relevant ASA adjudications, to provide a useful, central source of information. The Guidance will also apply to ads for films because they too have the potential to breach the Advertising Codes through unsuitable scheduling or placement or through the content of the ad.
  • To assist the advertising industry further, CAP and BCAP will host an Advice:am seminar on video games and films ads on 15 September this year. The seminar will clarify the Codes' requirements on ads for video games and films and to provide a forum for stakeholders to ask questions about those requirements.

So, by launching new, consolidated Guidance, proposing a TV scheduling rule for video games ads based on the existing rule for ads for films, and by hosting an Advice:am seminar, CAP and BCAP are working with the industry to make sure the dos and don'ts of advertising video games and films are clear. That way, CAP and BCAP can help ensure ads for video games and films remain responsible and that children are protected from potentially harmful or distressing ad content.


24th July   

Immature Censors...

Chicago Transit Authority's ban on M rated game adverts is challenged as unconstitutional
Link Here

The Entertainment Software Association, (ESA) which represents software and video game publishers filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority, They are claiming that a CTA ordinance disallowing advertisements of computer or video games with mature ratings is a violation of the first amendment that unfairly targets the entertainment software industry.

The suit is in response to a recently enacted ordinance, which prohibits any advertisement that markets or identifies a video or computer game rated Mature 17+ (M) or Adults Only 18+ (AO).

CTA spokeswoman Wanda Taylor said the CTA has yet to be served with the suit, but calls the policy defendable. We do not allow advertisements for alcohol or tobacco, and believe that this ordinance is consistent with that long-standing policy. We have guidelines on the system for all kinds of advertisements; what is allowed, what is prohibited [the ordinance] falls in line with that.

The suit claims the ordinance is unnecessary because the video game industry is already subject to regulation by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which strictly regulates computer and video game advertisements that are seen by the general public.

The suit asks the ordinance be eliminated, along with court fees and other relief.


23rd July   

Sausage Head Advert Censors...

ASA claim sausage innuendo may harm older children
Link Here

Four radio ads, for Mattesons smoked sausages, which were broadcast on Forth One, Clyde Radio and Real Radio, featured a male voice, which stated Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage ... . It continued:

a. Think about all the things you can stick this tasty, extraordinarily large sausage in. Mmm. Pizza, pasta, stir fry. You have any ideas? Give me a call and tell me where you like to stick it. Ladies, Im waiting for your call ... Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage. You want it.

b. You've all been telling me where you like to stick it. Jenny certainly let her imagination run riot. A female voice stated: I stick mine in a nice warm casserole but some evenings when Im alone I like to stick it, in my pasta salad. The male voice continued: I wondered what she was going to say there. Ladies, keep telling me where you like to stick yours ... Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage. You want it.

c. You've all been calling in, telling me where you like to stick it. This was Leslies response . A female voice stated: I stick mine in a hot creamy pasta, theres nothing like a saucy sausage. The male voice continued: I'm sure the ladies out there would agree, eh? Keep the calls coming, tell me where you like to stick yours ... Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage. You want it.

d. You've all been telling me where you like to stick it. This was one of my favourites. A female voice stated I'm renowned for my big sausage hot pot. People are always calling by for a bit and my husband Roger loves it . The male voice continued: Roger that Fiona. Ladies, keep telling me where you like to stick yours ... Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage. You want it.
The ASA received 21 complaints from listeners who heard the ads at various times throughout the day.

1. All 21 listeners believed the ads were offensive, because they contained inappropriate sexual innuendo.

2. Seven listeners also believed the ads were not suitable to be broadcast when children were likely to be listening.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the ads were intended to be light-hearted and considered that the opening line Mmm, Mattesons smoked pork sausage ... made clear that they were referring to food. We acknowledged that some viewers might find the humour in the ads in poor taste but considered that the innuendo was not sexually explicit; it was clear that the ads were referring to food using tongue-in-cheek humour. We concluded that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Upheld

We considered that young children would be unlikely to understand the innuendo in the ads. However, although it was not sexually explicit, the innuendo was sufficiently strong to present a problem if it was heard by older children. We concluded that the ads could cause harm to children and, because they had not been scheduled away from times when children might be listening, had not been appropriately scheduled.

The ads must not be broadcast in or around programmes likely to be heard by a significant number of children.


16th July   

Complaints Aborted...

ASA finds that morning after pill advert wasn't offensive
Link Here

A TV ad for Levonelle One Step emergency contraception featured cartoon-style animation of a worried-looking woman lying in bed next to a snoring man. Above her head a condom balloon floated round the room and burst to reveal the text The 'condom split' one. The woman was then shown on a bus near to another woman holding a crying baby. Text on the window of the bus stated The 'I'm not ready for that' one. The ad then featured the woman walking into a chemist where she was given Levonelle One Step by a female pharmacist. The text The 'only over the counter' one appeared as she picked up the product. The woman was shown walking out of the chemist with a smile on her face as the text The 'what a relief' one appeared on a billboard. A female voice-over said Levonelle One Step 72 hour emergency contraception. More effective the sooner you take it . On-screen text during the ad stated Emergency contraception and advice can also be obtained from your GP, Family Planning Clinic or NHS Walk-in Centre" and "Contains levonorgestrel. Always read the label. Not 100% effective.

112 viewers, who believed the light-hearted, cartoon style of the ad trivialised a serious issue and might lead young people to think that unprotected sex was not a problem and therefore encourage promiscuity, challenged whether the ad was offensive.

Clearcast said the ad offered help to those who feared they might become pregnant through no fault of their own, rather than because they were indulging in promiscuous or unsafe sex. The ad featured a condom splitting and therefore encouraged safe sex while pointing out that accidents could happen. The ad, and on-screen text in particular, made it clear that the product was for emergencies rather than something to be used in a casual manner. They believed the public information tone of the ad justified the use of animation, which was not graphic in itself and did not contain any overt references to sex. Because of the adult theme, they had given the ad a post-9pm restriction in order to keep the ad away from younger viewers.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted that the visuals and on-screen text referred to the fact that a condom had split, and we considered that it was clear that the couple's method of contraception had failed, rather than that they had had unprotected sex. We also noted that the voice-over and on-screen text referred to the product as emergency contraception , and we considered that it was also clear from the ad that the product was designed to be used in a specific situation where a contraceptive mishap had occurred, rather than as a regular form of contraception. We noted that the woman looked worried as she was shown sitting in bed and on the way to the chemist, and we considered that the ad suggested that her situation was not trivial but of concern to her. We considered that the animation did not present the woman in a glamorous or fashionable way, and we therefore considered that the style of the ad was unlikely to have particular appeal to young people. Because of that, and because we considered that the ad as a whole did not trivialise the issue of emergency contraception or encourage unprotected sex, we concluded that the ad would not cause serious or widespread offence.


11th July   

The Cerebrally Challenged ASA...

Advert censor whinges radio advert using the word 'mental'
Link Here

A radio ad, for a car dealership, stated Did you know the service department at Bognor Motors can collect your car or van from your home or work service it, MOT it and even clean it inside and out and deliver it back to you for just £99.99 ... For leasing, sales service and rental, if you don't go to Bognor Motors, you must be mental.

The Capital Project Trust (CPT), a mental health charity, challenged whether the ad was offensive to those with mental health problems.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA considered that listeners would infer that the word 'mental' referred to those potential customers who chose not to avail of the services offered by Bognor Motors and that those customers were therefore not of full mental capacity. We understood CPT's concern that 'mental' was a pejorative term habitually used to demean or ridicule people with mental health problems and considered that was the context in which it would be understood in this ad. We considered that the reference was likely to be seen to denigrate those with mental health problems and concluded that the ad could cause serious offence to some listeners.

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code section 2 rule 9 (Good Taste, Decency and Offence to Public Feeling).

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.


10th July   

The ASA Sucks...

Advert censor whinges about 12 rated ad on Yahoo!
Link Here

An internet display ad, for the film I Love You Man , showed the film's trailer when the user clicked through. The trailer featured scenes where various characters discussed oral sex. A female character said He goes down on you like six times a week to which another female character replied Lock that tongue down girl . In another scene, a male character said: Sometimes I wish that she enjoyed ... to which another male character replied getting it in the tush? ; the first male character responded No. Oral sex. In a further scene a male character said: Zoe you are about to marry a pleasure giver ... so give it back, return the favour to which a male character whispered to his female partner I don't think she sucks his ... and she replied Watch your mouth.

The complainant, who maintained that his child had viewed the ad, objected that the sexual content of the ad was offensive and unsuitable to be displayed on the Yahoo! homepage where children could see it.

Paramount Pictures UK (Paramount) said, although they acknowledged that the ad was of a theme that was not family orientated, Yahoo! had assured them that 90% of the visitors to the page it appeared on were over 18 years of age. They said the ad only ran for one day and stated clearly that the film had been given a 15 certificate. Paramount pointed out that the ad had to be clicked on in order to play the trailer and they believed that users would therefore have seen the film rating. They said the video content within the ad (the film trailer) had been given a 12A rating by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and a post-9pm restriction by Clearcast for the same content when broadcast on TV.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA noted the ad made several sexual references including explicit and implied references to oral sex. Although the trailer was representative of the content of the film and might be seen by some users to be humorous, we considered that some users were likely to consider such references offensive. We also noted the complainant's concern that the ad could be viewed by children but noted Yahoo!'s assertion that the audience for the Yahoo! homepage was overwhelmingly over the age of 18. However, we considered that the site was of general interest and likely to appeal to a broad range of internet users. We noted they had also pointed out that the trailer aspect of the ad appeared only after the user clicked on the display ad. However, we noted the ad was not protected through age verification or targeting and the display element of the ad gave no indication of the sexual themes of the trailer.

Because we considered that the sexual themes of the ad were likely to offend some users and were unsuitable for children, and because Yahoo! had not taken adequate steps to ensure that the ad was appropriately targeted, we concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 5.1 (Decency).


The ad must not appear again in its current form unless appropriately targeted.


5th July   

Update: In the Best Possible Taste...

Microsoft pull puke advert for private browsing in IE8
Link Here

Microsoft have pulled a pukey advert for private browsing mode introduced for their internet browser IE8.

A woman borrows her husband's computer, visits a curious link in his Internet browser history (presumably porn), and vomits all over her husband. Then Dean Cain shows up and tells the viewer how to avoid such situations by using IE8's private-browsing mode.

Anyway, Microsoft has pulled the advertisement - as much as you can from the Internet. The ad, as you can tell, is still available on YouTube and other places, though not through Microsoft. It was also taken off of, which is Microsoft's IE8 promotional Web site.

Microsoft apparently got a slew of complaints about the video. 

We make a point of listening to our customers, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to CNET News: We created the OMGIGP video as a tongue-in-cheek look at the InPrivate Browsing feature of Internet Explorer 8, using the same irreverent humor that our customers told us they liked about other components of the Internet Explorer 8 marketing campaign. While much of the feedback to this particular piece of creative was positive, some of our customers found it offensive, so we have removed it.


4th July   

In the Best Possible Taste...

Singapore blown away by Burger King advert
Link Here

A print advertisement of Burger King's sandwich in Singapore has come under fire because of its distasteful and unappetizing

The ad for the BK Super Seven Incher shows mind-blowing sandwich near the open mouth of a wide-eyed, red-lipsticked woman accompanied by suggestive tagline: It'll blow your mind away.

Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled, Fox News quoted the ad as saying further.

The ad is a limited time promotion in Singapore, known around the world for its strict government controls of social conduct. And now advertising experts have said the ad leaves little to imagination and should be discontinued.

A spokeswoman for Burger King, said the ad was produced by a local Singaporean agency.


2nd July   

Update: Temptation to Censor...

ASA Advertising censor offended by tempting ice cream
Link Here
Full story: Antonio Federici Ice Cream...Ice cream adverts wind up the nutters

An ad, which appeared in Delicious Magazine and Sainsburys Magazine , for Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano ice cream, showed a priest and a nun looking as if they were about to kiss. The nun was in full habit and the priest was wearing rosary beads around his neck and holding a pot of ice cream in his hand. Text stated KISS TEMPTATION.

Ten complainants thought the suggestion of a kiss between a priest and a nun was offensive, because it demeaned people who had chosen to follow a religious vocation.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the ad played on the theme of giving into temptation but stopped short of showing the nun and priest kissing. The ad stated KISS TEMPTATION and the two were portrayed in a seductive pose, as if they were about to kiss passionately.

We considered that the portrayal of the priest and nun in a sexualised manner and the implication that they were considering whether or not to give in to temptation, was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.

The ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) and must not appear again in its current form.

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