Archive for the ‘ASA Advert Censor’ Category

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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.

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macallan flying poster A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:

  • a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?. As he approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan. Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.

  • b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.

  • c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue

Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand’s philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the audience’s decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.

In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads, there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?.

Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

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request a bet A TV ad for Sky Bet, seen on 30 August 2018, promoting their Request a Bet service. The football presenter Jeff Stelling said, Forget ‘anything can happen’, in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet. Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: lets price that up. Or browse hundreds of request a bets on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky Bet, Britain’s most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop. A large screen behind the presenter featured various odds and statistics as well as a graphic of brain waves emanating from his head. Issue

Two complainants, who believed it implied that those with a good knowledge of sports were likely to experience gambling success, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheldd

The ad contained a number of references to the role of sports knowledge in betting, such as spark your sports brain and how big is your sports noggin. It also included a well-known sports presenter, who viewers would recognise as having a particular expertise in sports, and on-screen graphics used to depict brain waves and various odds. The ASA considered that, taking all those elements into account, the ad placed strong emphasis on the role of sports knowledge in determining betting success. We acknowledged it was the case that those with knowledge of a particular sport may be more likely to experience success when betting. However, we considered that the ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler’s control over betting success, by placing undue emphasis on the role of sports knowledge. We considered that this gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet and that could lead to irresponsible gambling behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ad must not be broadcast again in the form complained of. We told Bonne Terre t/a Sky Bet to ensure in future that their ads did not condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, for example by creating an unrealistic perception of the level of control consumers would have over betting success.