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One has to suspect that the same conversation between two men would have been banned...

ASA dismisses whinges about two women having an innuendo laden conversation about cars

Link Here 18th July 2018

A radio ad for Newsquest Media (Southern) Ltd t/a S1 Cars featured two women talking. One said to the other, Remember when I told you about that problem ... well, the flashing hasn't stopped and I'm really regretting that full body wax now. The other replied, Ugh, I did that once. I'm still aching. Have you tried online? What about this one? The first woman said, Look at that body. Now that is a total ride. All it needs is a quick spit and polish. Yeah not too old and a right go-er I'll bet. Oh and I love all that leather. Her friend replied, See, you just need to know where to look. A male voice stated, With a huge range of makes, models and prices, you're guaranteed to find a total ride at

Six complainants, who believed the sexual innuendo in the ad was likely to cause offence, challenged whether the ad breached the Code.

Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad featured two women ostensibly talking about used cars that they were viewing online, and that the ad contained sexual innuendo, for example, references to Now look at that body. That is a total ride, All it needs is a quick spit and polish and a right go-er I'll bet. We also noted that the voice-over at the end said, ... you're guaranteed to find a total ride at We understood that the term a total ride was slang in Scotland, where the ad was broadcast, for someone who was sexually attractive. We considered that the innuendo in the ad was relatively mild and light-hearted, and whilst some listeners may have found it distasteful or coarse, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.



Property porn...

Advert censor must be ecstatic about the chance to ban an advert for the supposed objectification of men

Link Here 12th July 2018

Two ads for Lewis Oliver Estates, an estate agent, seen in April and June 2018:

  • a. A poster ad featured an image of a topless man wearing fitted boxer shorts. The image was cropped so that only the model's torso and thighs were visible. Text stated WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE. A roundel containing the text Fully managed letting service was placed over the model's crotch.

  • b. A leaflet featured the same image and text as ad (a).Issue

Two complainants, who believed that the image was irrelevant to the service being advertised and objectified the man, objected that the ad was offensive.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the ad was for an estate agent, and the image of a topless man bore no relation to the product being advertised. While the pose was only mildly suggestive in nature, we noted that the man's head was cropped out of the picture, which invited viewers to focus on his body. We considered that the phrase WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE, in combination with the service information placed over the model's crotch, was a clear reference to male genitalia. Taking the image, strapline and placement of the roundel into account, we considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the man by using his physical features to draw attention to an unrelated product. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people.

The ads must not appear again in the forms complained about. We told Lewis Oliver Estates Ltd not to portray men in a manner that objectified them and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.



Boost Lee in Finger of Fury...

ASA dismisses a ludicrous whinge that a Bruce Lee parody was a racial stereotype

Link Here 11th July 2018

A TV ad for Boost, an energy provider, seen in February 2018, promoted a prepayment energy smart meter. The ad began with a woman holding a torch whilst trying to turn on her light switch. The next scene featured an Asian man standing in a Kung Fu stance in a yellow jumpsuit similar to the jumpsuits worn by Bruce Lee. On-screen yellow text stated BOOST LEE IN 'FINGER OF FURY' accompanied by Chinese text which translated to finger of fury. Smaller on-screen text stated MMXVIII Bruce Lee Rights/TM Bruce Lee Enterprises. The man screamed and held his phone out saying Tap me. The woman then also screamed and performed a Kung Fu action and tapped the phone. The next scene showed the man teaching the woman how to perform Kung Fu actions whilst saying, It's like a finger pointing away to the bulb. Concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory. Top up your power anytime, anywhere with Boost pay as you go energy. Don't think, switch.Issue

A complainant, who believed the ad featured outdated racial stereotypes, challenged whether the ad was offensive and condoned harmful discriminatory behaviour and was scheduled inappropriately.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad featured a character named Boost Lee wearing a yellow jumpsuit, teaching martial arts. The character was seen performing different Kung Fu stances while screaming and encouraging the female character to mimic those actions. We considered that viewers would understand that the character was intended to resemble Bruce Lee.

We understood the complainant was concerned that the comedic portrayal of Bruce Lee in that manner, including the use of an exaggerated Chinese accent with Ku Fung screams perpetuated the racial stereotype that all Chinese people were Kung Fu experts and spoke in a similar style. However, we noted that the ad did not contain any general references to Chinese people and therefore considered that viewers were likely to understand that the ad was specifically parodying Bruce Lee rather than Chinese people generally. We considered the ad was likely to be interpreted as light-hearted and humorous and therefore was unlikely to encourage the mocking or belittling of Chinese people.

We further considered that because the ad did not contain anything derogatory and did not mock Chinese people, the content of the ad was suitable for children to see and therefore did not require a scheduling restriction.

We concluded that the ad did not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment of Chinese people and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We also concluded that the ad was scheduled appropriately.



Digging a hole for themselves...

Insidious: The Last Key trailer found to be unsuitable to show before Minecraft, Frozen and Lego videos on YouTube

Link Here 13th June 2018

Two pre-roll ads seen on YouTube in late December 2017 and early January 2018 for the 15-rated (PG-13 rated in the US) horror film, Insidious: The Last Key . Both ads featured a number of scenes in quick succession and tense sound effects:

  • a. The ad opened with a shot of a house in the dark and then showed a young woman walking through it. She was shown looking at some medical instruments on a table before being thrown backwards by a force. She was then depicted lying on the floor screaming whilst a humanoid creature with claw-like fingers probed at her throat. Further scenes included a creature hanging upside down, the same woman screaming on a hospital bed and a clawed hand emerging from a sleeve. Another female character said, People who need help with hauntings come to me, but this house is my family's house. I'm going to find it and I'm going to finish it. In the final scenes of the ad a male character said, Lisa there's someone right in front of you. Lisa replied, I don't see anything. A hand was shown reaching out to her in the dark and then a sudden shot of a grinning creature with fanged teeth was shown next to a woman.

The ad was seen before a video of songs from Frozen, a video about how to build a Lego fire station and a video of the children's cartoon PJ Masks.

  • b. The ad opened with a young woman lying on a floor immobile, bloodied and distressed while a humanoid creature crept towards her and then probed at her with claw-like fingers and pierced her skin. At the same time another female character said, People with matters that can't be explained, come to me. But this one is different. This was my family's house. A male character than stated, I'm going to count back from five, four, three, two and a number of brief scenes were shown, including a woman's eyeballs turning to white, a huddled female figure on the floor in the dark, a woman lying on a bed screaming and a screaming woman appearing and then disappearing behind someone. In the final scene of the ad a woman was shown slowly opening a suitcase and a creature suddenly leapt from it.

The ad was seen before two Minecraft videos.

The ASA received five complaints, three of which were from parents who said their children saw the ads and two from adults who said they had found the ads distressing. They objected that:

  1. the ads were irresponsibly targeted because they were seen before videos which were of appeal to children; and

  2. the ads were unduly distressing.

Columbia Pictures Corporation Ltd t/a Sony Pictures Releasing UK said they had targeted the ads on YouTube to an adult audience, by excluding audiences below 18 years and preventing the ads being shown before content with unknown audiences. They said their agency had also added a layer of safety by using further YouTube targeting, including content exclusions such as content that was suitable for families, over 1,000 negative keywords exclusions including keywords with appeal to children, over 40 negative topic exclusions including religion, politics, news and children's content, and they opted out of all display network content to ensure they had control over websites and apps with audiences aged under 18 years.

YouTube said that advertisers administered their own campaigns, and were responsible for determining the appropriate targeting, and could control what types of users saw their campaigns and against what types of content they did not want their campaigns to appear. They said advertisers could target specific demographics, excluding anyone who was not logged-in with a declared or inferred age of over-18.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. & 2. Upheld

The ads were for a 15-rated horror film and featured a series of clips from the film. The ASA recognised the complainants' concerns that both ads were seen before content on YouTube with particular appeal or interest to children, including videos of songs from Frozen, of the cartoon PJ Masks and videos relating to Minecraft and Lego. We considered that the ads were unsuitable for children because they were excessively frightening and shocking, and were likely to cause fear and distress, most notably the scenes with the woman on the floor screaming and in distress while the humanoid creature approached her and clawed at her throat, and in which the creature's face appeared suddenly.

We noted that three complainants also believed the ads were unduly distressing for adults and two stated that they had suffered particular distress from viewing the ads. We understood that ad (b) had been cleared for TV with a post 11 pm scheduling restriction by Clearcast, which indicated that it contained the strongest allowable content of a graphic or distressing nature for TV. Ad (b) featured in particular a close-up shot of the humanoid creature's claw piercing the woman's throat, and built suspense with sound effects and screaming, and a voice-over countdown, at the end of which a creature suddenly jumped out of a suitcase. We considered that ad (a), although slightly less graphic, contained a similar level of frightening content. Furthermore, both ads contained other content which was shocking in nature. Several scenes featured the sudden appearance of the creature's face or a woman with white eyeballs, together with tense sound effects.

We considered that the ads may have been appropriate to show before limited content on YouTube with similar themes and imagery that was intended for adults. However, when seen by the complainants the ads were juxtaposed against unrelated content such as Minecraft videos. They also were not skippable until five seconds into the ads and did not contain any warning regarding their content. We therefore considered that the ads, in that context, were likely to cause excessive fear or distress for some adults without justifiable reason, because they were unexpectedly shocking and frightening.

We understood that Sony Pictures Releasing UK had identified and restricted the YouTube content before which the ads should not be shown, in particular putting in place topical and demographic exclusions on content with appeal to children or with unknown audiences. However, the ads had appeared before various videos that were highly likely to be of appeal or interest to children, and we noted that one of the complainants viewed ad (b) when they were not signed in to YouTube. The ads were also likely to be unduly distressing to some adults in the context in which they appeared. For those reasons, we concluded that the ads had not been targeted appropriately and were likely to cause undue distress, and therefore were in breach of the Code.

We told Sony Pictures Releasing UK to ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted, and that similar future ads were targeted appropriately to ensure they did not cause undue distress to their likely audience without justifiable reason.



Batty censors...

ASA bans LingsCars joke about BMW drivers

Link Here 7th June 2018

A Facebook ad for the lease of a Fiat Spider by LINGsCars, a car leasing company, seen on 23 February 2018, featured text which stated These Fiat Spiders must be registered by the end of March on current reg [sic] plate, but are you that anal about number plates? Who needs a V8 Kia Stinker or a BMW bum boy car, when you have the best small convertible ever?

A complainant challenged whether the reference to a BMW bum boy car was offensive. stated that they aimed to target their ad at people above the age of 24 and to those who had an interest in cars. They did not believe the term BMW Bum Boy was offensive and thought it was a well-known term for someone who owned a modified BMW vehicle and drove aggressively. They suggested changing the wording to the term BMW Batty Boy.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA considered that bum boy was widely understood as a derogatory term directed at homosexual men and that the use of that term to describe a vehicle would therefore be regarded as homophobic by many people. Whilst we acknowledged Ling's Cars comments on their target audience, we considered that a person's age and their interest in cars had no relevance as to whether or not they would be offended by homophobic language. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.

We acknowledged Ling's Cars suggested change of wording to BMW Batty Boy, but considered that was not significantly different to the original term and was equally offensive for the same reason.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ltd to ensure their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society, and that it did not cause serious or widespread offence.



The Silly Season...

Lingerie shops poster banned for the widespread offence of a single complainant and a board PC censors

Link Here 6th June 2018

An outdoor poster ad for Silks of Glasgow, a lingerie store, seen in December 2017, featured an image of a woman in lingerie, leaning forward to emphasise her bust. The image poster featured the woman's body only and not her head or face. The image was accompanied by the text Tease the Season.

A complainant, who believed the ad objectified women, objected that it was offensive.

Silks did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA was concerned by Silk's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule(Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.

The purpose of the ad was to advertise a collection of lingerie and therefore we considered it was reasonable to feature a woman in limited amounts of clothing. The ad did not show the model's face, and focused only on her body which was posed leaning over in a way that emphasised her chest. The ASA considered that the model's pose and the image, combined with the text Tease the season, was sexually suggestive. We considered that, by focusing entirely on the model's body without showing her head, and in the context of a sexually suggestive pose and byline, the image invited viewers to view the woman's body as a sexual object.

For those reasons, we considered that the ad objectified women and we therefore considered that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Silks not to use ads that objectified women and that were therefore likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.



Just the ticket...

ASA reports Viagogo to National Trading Standards and calls on search engines to block links and adverts to the company.

Link Here 31st May 2018
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has requested search engines Google and Bing remove some listings and ads for ticketing site Viagogo which controversially features several misleading sales ploys.

ASA today judged the site to be misleading consumers by failing to be transparent about fees, wrongfully using the term official site to suggest it was an authorised ticket agent and falsely claiming it could 100% guarantee entry to events.

The ASA had previously issued a warning to Viagogo about editing such claims on its website and advertising content. However, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said it failed to respond by the 29 May deadline.

The ASA has now referred the Geneva-based company to National Trading Standards (NTS). In addition, it issued requests to search engines Google and Bing to remove any links which would take a consumer through to a page containing non-compliant content.

NTS has since opened an investigation into Viagogo, which could see the company issued fines or face legal action against staff.

Meanwhile, digital minister Margot James has also urged consumers to boycott the company.



ASA snarls...

Complaints rejected about a music poster for Don Broco's album Technology

Link Here 30th May 2018

A poster for Don Broco's album Technology , seen in February 2018, included an image of a figure in the style of a religious icon, with the face replaced by a snarling dog.

Two complainants, who believed the image to be of the Virgin Mary, objected that the ad would cause serious offence to Christians.

Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

Exterion Media (UK) Ltd did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to the public, particularly in the context of the product being advertised.

The ASA was concerned by Sony's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA understood that the image in the ad was reminiscent of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a revered icon of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Christian faith, although it was not an alteration of a specific image. We acknowledged that some members of the Christian faith would object to the use of the image in an ad, and in particular the replacement of the face with a snarling dog. However, we considered that it was clear the ad was for an album and that the image was being presented as artwork in that context. We also considered that the image would not be seen as mocking or derogatory towards the Madonna or Christian faith in general, and there was nothing else within the ad which gave that impression. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.


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