A TV ad for Wonderful pistachio nuts, seen in November 2011, featured a woman dressed in a black PVC corset and underwear and black PVC thigh high boots. She placed a pistachio on a chair and cracked the nut with a whip. The voiceover said Dominatrix do it … on command. Wonderful Pistachios … get crackin’. Large on-screen text then stated Big Nut and Get Crackin’, above a picture of a large pistachio nut which opened to reveal a bag of pistachios. The voice-over then said And for extra spice …, and the sound of a whip cracking was heard, Try new sweet chilli flavour. Wonderful, as large on-screen text stated Sweet Chilli above a picture of a large pistachio nut which again opened to reveal a bag of pistachios. Issue
Ten complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children because of the dominatrix theme and whether the ad was inappropriately scheduled.
ASA Decision: Not upheld
The ASA noted that Clearcast had applied a restriction which prevented the ads from being broadcast in or around programmes directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We understood that almost all of the ads, although not all, had also been scheduled for broadcast after 9 pm, which reduced further the likelihood of them being seen by children.
We noted that the ad featured a woman dressed in a black PVC corset, underwear and thigh high boots, using a whip, and who was referred to as a dominatrix. We considered that the woman’s outfit and the use of the term dominatrix did make reference to a sexual practice, but also noted that the woman then used her whip to crack a pistachio nut, and the ad did not include any explicit or sexualised behaviour. We therefore considered that most viewers would understand that the action was intended to be humorous and surreal, and would not find it overtly sexual. Whilst we also considered that the lines Dominatrix do it … on command and the on-screen text Big Nut and Get Crackin’ would be understood by adult viewers to be suggestive and recognised that that approach would not be to everyone’s taste, we considered that most viewers would nonetheless understand that those lines were intended to be playful and humorous and considered that they were therefore unlikely to provoke serious or widespread offence.
We considered therefore that the scheduling restriction applied by Clearcast was sufficient and that the ad had been appropriately scheduled to minimize the risk of children seeing it. We concluded that, in light of that, the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.1, 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.