ASA bans innuendo until 11pm…E-cigarette TV advert restricted until late night hours

Posted: 26 February, 2014 in ASA Advert Censor
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Read more ASA Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article from asa.org.uk
See video from YouTube

vip tv advert video Two TV ads, which also appeared on the advertiser’s YouTube channel, for VIP Electronic Cigarettes: a. The first TV ad showed a woman speaking directly to the camera, she stated, I want you to get it out I want to see it Feel it hold it Put it in my mouth I want to see how great it tastes. On-screen text stated http://www.vipecig.co.uk Contains Nicotine . A symbol also appeared that indicated the product was not suitable for those aged under 18 years. Further on-screen text stated THE GREAT TASTE OF VIP and VIP E-cigarettes & E-liquids . An accompanying female voice-over stated, If you’re gonna Vape, Vape with VIP.

c. The second TV ad showed a man speaking directly to the camera, he stated, Do you want to see it? I can get it out if you’d like. You can feel it hold it Put it in your mouth And see how great it tastes. On-screen text stated http://www.vipecig.co.uk Contains Nicotine . A symbol also appeared that indicated the product was not suitable for those aged under 18. Further on-screen text stated THE GREAT TASTE OF VIP and VIP E-cigarettes & E-liquids . An accompanying female voice-over stated If you’re gonna Vape, Vape with VIP .

The ads were cleared by Clearcast with a post-21:00 restriction.

The ASA received 1,156 complaints.

A number of complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive, because:

  1. they were overly sexual in nature;
  2. they understood the term vape , used in a sexual context, to be wordplay on the term rape ; and
  3. they were sexist, degrading and exploited women.
  4. A number of complainants challenged whether the ads: were irresponsible, because they sexualised and glamorised e-cigarettes and smoking; and
  5. irresponsibly promoted a smoking-related product, for which the health effects were yet to be established, to young viewers.
  6. A number of complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (c) were appropriately scheduled, because they could be viewed by children.
  7. One complainant challenged whether ad (a) was irresponsible, because it failed to carry an appropriate health warning associated with nicotine products.

ASA Assessment

1. & 6. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged the complainants’ concerns that the presentation of the ads included implied references to oral sex. We noted the ads contained no explicit sexual imagery and concluded by revealing that the commentary related to an e-cigarette.

However, we considered the sexually provocative presentation of the male and female characters in conjunction with a graphic description of oral sex was likely to cause serious and widespread offence to viewers who viewed ads (a) and (c) during normal evening viewing. We acknowledged the post-21:00 timing restriction would reduce the risk of younger children seeing ads (a) and (c), but because of the references to oral sex, we considered a post-21:00 timing restriction was not sufficient to avoid offending viewers and that a post-23:00 timing restriction should have been applied. On that basis, we concluded that ads (a) and (c) breached the Code.

To view ads (b) and (d), consumers needed to locate the ads on the advertiser’s YouTube channel. In that context, we considered ads (b) and (d) were not likely to cause serious and widespread offence to those viewers. We therefore concluded that ads (b) and (d) did not breach the Code on point 1.

2. Not upheld

We considered the presentation of the ads made clear that the term vape related to the use of e-cigarettes and did not equate to wordplay on the word rape. We therefore considered the use of the term vape was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

3. Not upheld

We considered the woman, in ads (a) and (b), was not depicted as a sexual object, nor did it suggest that the woman was in distress. We considered the comments of the man, in ads (c) and (d), were suggestive in tone, but were not demeaning or sexist. We also considered ads (c) and (d) did not make clear to whom the character’s comments were addressed. In that context, we considered the ads were not likely to be viewed as sexist, degrading or exploiting women. We therefore concluded that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on this point.

4. Not upheld

We noted that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes could be sold legally in the UK, were not a prohibited category under the CAP and BCAP Codes, and were therefore permitted to be advertised, within the confines of the Advertising Codes. We therefore considered the advertising of those products would not automatically be found to be harmful providing they were advertised in a responsible manner.

Whilst the ads were sexual in tone, we considered the ads did not glamorise the nicotine product nor did they encourage excessive or inappropriate use. Also, the ads did not include any reference to smoking. We therefore considered the content of the ads did not encourage smoking or the harmful use of a nicotine product. We therefore concluded that the ads were not socially irresponsible.

5. Not upheld

As noted previously, e-cigarettes could be advertised in compliance with the Advertising Codes provided they were advertised in a responsible manner.

Notwithstanding our concerns about the sufficiency of the timing restriction that had been applied to ads (a) and (c), we considered the original post-21:00 timing restriction would reduce the risk of younger children seeing those ads. We noted that, in order to view ads (b) and (d), consumers would need to search for them on YouTube. We therefore considered ads (b) and (d) were unlikely to be viewed children. In addition, we considered the presentation of the ads did not include content of particular appeal to children.

Because the ads did not include content of particular appeal to children and because the original placement of the ads reduced the risk of children seeing the ads, we concluded that the ads did not irresponsibly promote the advertised product to young viewers and therefore did not breach the Code on this point.

7. Not upheld

We understood there was no requirement for the advertised product to carry a health warning. Notwithstanding that, we considered it important that ads for e-cigarettes stated whether or not the advertised product contained nicotine. We judged that to be material information the consumer needed to know in order to avoid the likelihood of being misled. Because the ad made clear that the advertised product contained nicotine, we concluded the ad was not misleading on this point.

Ads (a) and (c) must not be broadcast again before 23:00. We told VIP Electronic Cigarettes to ensure ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence in future and to ensure that they were appropriately scheduled.

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