Archive for the ‘ASA Advert Censor’ Category

PETA can’t pull the wool over the eyes of ASA…

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peta bus advert An ad for PETA displayed on the side of buses, seen in February 2019, included the text Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. Wool is just as cruel as fur. GO WOOL-FREE THIS WINTER PeTA. Beside the text was an image of a woman with the neck of her jumper pulled over her face.

Ten complainants, who believed that sheep needed to be shorn for health reasons and therefore wool should not be compared to fur, challenged whether the claim wool is just as cruel as fur was misleading and could be substantiated.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA considered that the general public were aware that in the fur industry animals were often kept in poor conditions and were killed for their fur, and that they would interpret the ad’s reference to cruelty in that context. We considered that people who saw the ad would therefore understand the claim wool is just as cruel as fur to refer generally to the conditions in which sheep were kept and the effects on sheep of the methods used to obtain their wool. We considered that although the public would recognise the ad was from an animal rights organisation and as such that the claim would represent its views, it was presented as a factual claim and a direct comparison between the two industries.

In terms of wool production in the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Code of Recommendations for the welfare of livestock had specific guidelines on the shearing process to ensure they were adhering to the standards of animal welfare which was required by law. Those guidelines stated that every mature sheep should have its fleece removed at least once a year by experienced and competent trained shearers who should take care in ensuring that the sheep’s skin was not cut. We considered that demonstrated that the main method of obtaining wool from sheep by shearing would not be regarded by consumers as being cruel.

The Code of Recommendations and additional guidance also included specific provisions for the health, treatment, transportation and living conditions that sheep should be kept in for the overall benefit of their welfare. We considered this demonstrated that in the UK, there were standards to prevent cruelty to sheep.

We considered people who saw the ad would interpret the claim wool is just as cruel as fur as equating the conditions in which sheep were kept and the methods by which wool was obtained with the conditions and methods used in the fur industry. However, sheep were not killed for their wool as animals were in the fur industry and there were standards in place relating to their general welfare including relating to the shearing process. We therefore concluded on that basis that the claim was misleading and in breach of the Code.

The ad must not appear in its current form. We told PETA not to use the claim wool is just as cruel as fur in future.

Advertisements

How about the harm to society caused by divisive people that see political incorrectness everywhere they look?

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egolf video A TV ad for the Volkswagen eGolf, seen on 14 June 2019, opened with a shot of a woman and a man in a tent. The woman was asleep and the man switched off the light and closed the tent, which was shown to be fixed to a sheer cliff face. The following scene depicted two male astronauts floating in a space ship. Text stated When we learn to adapt. The next scene showed a male para-athlete with a prosthetic leg doing the long jump. Text stated we can achieve anything. The final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench next to a pram. A Volkswagen eGolf passed by quietly. The woman was shown looking up from her book. Text stated The Golf is electric. The 100% electric eGolf. Issue

Three complainants, who believed that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by showing men engaged in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role, challenged whether it breached the Code.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The first scene of the ad showed both a man and a woman in a tent, panning out to show that it was fixed to the side of a cliff and therefore implying that they had both climbed up the steep rock face. However, the woman was shown sleeping, by contrast with the man in the scene. Furthermore, due to the short duration of the shot and its focus on the movement of the man, it was likely that many viewers would not pick up on the fact that it featured a woman, as was the case with the complainants.

The ad then showed two male astronauts carrying out tasks in space and a male para-athlete doing the long jump. We considered that viewers would be likely to see the activities depicted as extraordinary and adventurous — scientific and career-based in the case of the astronauts and physical in the case of the athlete. That impression was reinforced by the claim When we learn to adapt, we can achieve anything. While we noted that a third astronaut appeared in the background, the image was very brief and not prominent. We considered that many viewers would not notice the presence of a third person, and if they did, the image was insufficiently clear to distinguish their gender.

The first two scenes both more prominently featured male characters. While the majority of the ad was focussed on a theme of adapting to difficult circumstances and achievement, the final scene showed a woman sitting on a bench and reading, with a pram by her side. We acknowledged that becoming a parent was a life changing experience that required significant adaptation, but taking care of children was a role that was stereotypically associated with women.

In context, the final scene (the only one that featured the product) gave the impression that the scenario had been used to illustrate the adaptation and resulting characteristic of the car — so quiet that it did not wake the baby or register with the mother — rather than as a further representation of achievement, particularly as the setting was relatively mundane compared to the other scenarios.

Taking into account the overall impression of the ad, we considered that viewers were likely to focus on the occupations of the characters featured in the ad and observe a direct contrast between how the male and female characters were depicted. By juxtaposing images of men in extraordinary environments and carrying out adventurous activities with women who appeared passive or engaged in a stereotypical care-giving role, we considered that the ad directly contrasted stereotypical male and female roles and characteristics in a manner that gave the impression that they were exclusively associated with one gender.

We concluded that the ad presented gender stereotypes in way that was likely to cause harm and therefore breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Volkswagen Group UK Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm, including by directly contrasting male and female roles and characteristics in a way that implied they were uniquely associated with one gender.

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ASA logo ASA’s new rule banning harmful gender stereotypes in ads has come into force.

The new rule in the Advertising Codes, which will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media (including online and social media), states:

[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

This change follows a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).  Following the review, CAP (the rulle writing arm of ASA) consulted publicly on specific proposals to ban harmful gender stereotypes in ads, underpinned by the evidence collected by the ASA. The proposed restrictions were supported by a majority of respondents.

The evidence does not show that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic and the new rule does not seek to ban gender stereotypes outright, but to identify specific harms that should be prevented.

The advertising industry has had six months to get ready for the new rule. The ASA will now deal with any complaints it receives on a case-by-case basis and will assess each ad by looking at the content and context to determine if the new rule has been broken.

Scenarios in ads likely to be problematic under the new rule include:

  • An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.

  • An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.

  • Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.

  • An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.

  • An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.

  • An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically female roles or tasks.

The rule and its supporting guidance doesn’t stop ads from featuring:

  • A woman doing the shopping or a man doing DIY.

  • Glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles.

  • One gender only, including in ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender.

  • Gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their negative effects.

CAP will carry out a review of the new rule in 12 months’ time to make sure it’s meeting its objective to prevent harmful gender stereotypes.

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strasse poster An ad for Strasse Garage, seen in the 911 and Porsche World Magazine on 28 February 2019 featured an image of the lower half of a woman’s body wearing a black fitted mini-dress and brightly coloured high heels positioned underneath a car, surrounded by car tools and a handbag. Text positioned across the image stated ATTRACTIVE SERVICING.

A complainant who believed the ad was degrading and sexist towards women, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible.

Strasse  Ltd said that the model in the ad was fully clothed in leggings and a tunic and was empowered by the addition of power tools. The attractive servicing referred to in the ad was in relation to their attractive prices versus those of their competitors.

They did not consider that the ad contained anything that was likely to cause widespread offence on the grounds of sex. They confirmed that they had not received any complaints about the ad.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA noted the model’s head was obscured and the text ATTRACTIVE SERVICING appeared across her crotch and legs. The model’s waist and lower half appeared from beneath the car, with her legs placed apart. Because of the positioning of her bent leg, her skirt was pulled up to reveal her upper thigh and crotch, albeit in opaque black tights. We considered that because the model’s face was not shown, the lower half of her body became the main focus of the ad.

We considered the phrase attractive servicing would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the attractive part of the servicing, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase attractive servicing it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman’s physical features to draw attention to the ad.

We concluded the ad was not sexually explicit, but by using a suggestive image that bore no relevance to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence to some people.

The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Strasse (UK) Ltd to ensure their advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious offence by objectifying women.

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asa annual report 2018 The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Annual Report 2018 have been published revealing that more ads have been censored or banned than ever befor. And, in a year when online cases* outnumbered television cases by almost 3:1, it also highlights the new, proactive and innovative projects ASA and CAP are undertaking as part of a new five year strategy focused on having more impact online.

In a record year, the ASA resolved 33,727complaints about 25,259 ads Of those, 16,059 complaints (41% increase on 2017) were about 14,257 online ads (38% increase) 10,773 complaints (14% increase) were about 5,748 TV ads (23% increase) Resolved 27,014 own-initiative compliance cases Overall, the ASA secured the amendment or withdrawal of 10,850 ads (a 53% increase on 2017)

The report also reviews the actions that have been taken to tackle consumer harms and to protect the financially vulnerable; including projects on:

Secondary Tickets — rulings against the main operators in the secondary ticketing sector for misleading pricing claims on their websites, including enforcement action against viagogo (facing the prospect of prosecution, viagogo came into compliance with our rules) Parcel Delivery Charges — Enforcement Notice issued to retailers across the UK making clear that a definitive claim about UK delivery should apply wherever a consumer lives, including Northern Ireland and northern Scotland Superimposed text – research published into whether TV viewers can read and understand superimposed text (supers). Subsequently, CAP toughened the standards we require for supers, while the ASA announced it will take a stricter approach to ensure qualifications are presented clearly.

The ASA has already taken its first steps to strengthen further the regulation of online advertising through its recent use of new monitoring technology in the form of child avatars – online profiles which simulate children’s browsing activity – to identify ads that children see online. This has enabled the ASA to take swift action to ban ads from five gambling operators which were served to child avatars on children’s websites. The ASA is planning to extend this avatar work, as well as to explore how other new technologies can help it better protect the public.

The ASA don’t seem to have broken out statistics that the Melon Farmers would like to know:

  • What proportion of the ASA’s workload is enforcing political correctness?
  • What proportion of the ASA’s workload is nannyism telling us for example what food is ‘good’ for us?
  • What proportion of the ASA’s workload is treating people as simpletons that are likely to become alcoholics just because an attractive 21 year old appeared in an ad
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mr monopoly logo A banner ad for Monopoly Casino, seen 7 February 2019 on the Mirror Online website, featured an image of the character Mr Monopoly and text which stated Monopoly Casino, SUPER MONOPOLY MONEY and PLAY NOW.

A complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to be of particular appeal to children.

Entertaining Play t/a Monopoly Casino did not believe the Mr Monopoly character was of particular appeal to children. They outlined that the character was depicted as shown since the inception of the Monopoly brand, with the character shown in traditional, adult attire. Monopoly Casino said that the character did not possess exaggerated features and did not mimic any style of cartoon character seen in current children’s programming. The characterisation of Mr Monopoly as a traditionally dressed older gentleman was a conscious decision in recognition of the character’s universal appeal. In relation to the ad’s background, Monopoly Casino said that the colours used were not garish or overly vibrant and did not draw inspiration from youth culture.

Monopoly Casino highlighted that they had also taken actions to target the ad only to those aged over 18 years of age.

The Mirror Online also said that age targeting could be applied to the ad so that it was not targeted at children. They did not believe the ad had appeal to children and they said that the ad included a label which stated 18+.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The CAP Code stated that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Gambling ads could not therefore appeal more to under-18s than they did to over-18s.

The ASA understood that Monopoly Casino had taken steps to target the ad only at those over 18 years of age. However, the steps taken could not ensure that under-18s were not exposed to the ad and we therefore considered whether it complied with the Code’s requirement that gambling ads must not be of particular appeal to children.

The ad’s branding referenced a regular edition of the board-game Monopoly, and included two red and white Monopoly logos. We considered that Monopoly was a family game generally played by or with children, and that under-18s would therefore recognise and find the ad’s references to it appealing. In addition, the ad featured a prominent image of the Mr Monopoly character which had exaggerated features reminiscent of a children’s cartoon, which meant the image would also be appealing to under-18s. Taking account of the ad as a whole, we considered that the use of the Monopoly logo and the depiction of the Mr Monopoly character meant that the ad was likely to appeal more to under-18s than to over-18s. We therefore concluded that the ad was of particular appeal to under-18s and breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Entertaining Play Ltd t/a Monopoly Casino to ensure their ads for gambling products did not have particular appeal to those under18 years of age.

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Are you UK internet censorship ready?
NordVPN

The ASA has banned an advert for the extra security provided by VPNs in response to 9 complainants objecting to the characterisation of the internet as dangerous place full of hackers and fraudsters.

It is not as if the claims are ‘offensive’ or anything, so these are unlikely to be complaints from the public. One has to suspect that the authorities really don’t want people to get interested in VPNs lest they evade website blocking and internet surveillance.

Anyway the ASA writes:

A TV ad for NordVPN seen on 9 January 2019. The ad began with a man walking down a train cubicle. Text on screen appeared that stated Name: John Smith. A man’s voice then said, Look it’s me, giving out my credit card details. The ad then showed the man handing his credit card to passengers on the train. On-screen text appeared that stated Credit card number 1143 0569 7821 9901. CVV/CVC 987. The ad then cut to another shot of the man showing other passengers his phone. The man’s voice said, Sharing my password with strangers. On-screen text stated Password: John123. The ad then cut to a shot of the man taking a photo of himself with a computer generated character. The man’s voice said, Being hackers’ best friend. The ad then cut to the man looking down the corridor of the carriage as three computer generated characters walked towards him. The man’s voice then said, Your sensitive online data is just as open to snoopers on public WiFi. The man then pulled out his phone, which showed his security details again. The voice said, Connect to Nord VPN. Help protect your privacy and enjoy advanced internet security. On-screen text stated Advanced security. 6 devices. 30-day money-back guarantee. The ad cut to show the computer generated characters disappear as the man appeared to use the NordVPN app on his phone.

Nine complainants challenged whether the ad exaggerated the extent to which users were at risk from data theft without their service. Response

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted that the ad showed the character John Smith walking around a train, handing out personal information including credit card details and passwords to passengers while he stated he was being hackers’ best friend. The character then said Your sensitive online data is just as open to snoopers on public WiFi. Based on that, we considered consumers would understand that use of public WiFi connections would make them immediately vulnerable to hacking or phishing attempts by virtue of using those connections. Therefore NordVPN needed to demonstrate that using public networks posed such a risk.

With regards to the software, we acknowledged that the product was designed to add an additional layer of encryption beyond the HTTPS encryption which already existed on public WiFi connections to provide greater security from threats on public networks.

We noted the explanations from NordVPN and Clearcast that public networks presented security risks and that the use of HTTPS encryption, which was noticeable from the use of a padlock in a user’s internet browser, did not in all circumstances indicate that a connection was completely secure.

However, while we acknowledged that such data threats could exist we considered the overwhelming impression created by the ad was that public networks were inherently insecure and that access to them was akin to handing out security information voluntarily. As acknowledged by NordVPN, we understood that HTTPS did provide encryption to protect user data so therefore, while data threats existed, data was protected by a significant layer of security.

Therefore, because the ad created the impression that users were at significant risk from data theft, when that was not the case, we concluded it was misleading.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Tefincom SA t/a NordVPN not to exaggerate the risk of data theft without using their service.