Archive for the ‘ASA Advert Censor’ Category

Four in-app ads for the e-commerce platform Wish:

  • a. The first ad, seen in the BBC Good Food Guide app on 13 April 2020, featured images including a naked mannequin wearing a cape, a woman shown from the neck down wearing a corset that partially exposed her breasts and revealed nipple tassels, and an image of a reclining woman from the waist down wearing fishnet stockings and underwear.

  • b. The second ad, seen in the Google News app on 22 April 2020, featured images including a woman wearing a jacket that partially exposed her cleavage and midriff, and a woman shown from the neck down wearing a corset that partially exposed her breasts and revealed nipple tassels.

  • c. The third ad, seen in the Google News app on 1 May 2020, featured the same images as ad (b), and an image of a prosthetic penis alongside the text Dildo + Ass Sex Cup + Penis Sleeve … 6cm Longer … 4cm Bigger.

  • d. The fourth ad, seen in a Solitaire game on Google Play on 1 May 2020, featured the same images as ad (c), and an image of a reclining woman from the waist down wearing fishnet stockings and underwear. Issue

The ASA received three complaints:

1. three complainants, who considered that the content of the ads was sexually graphic, objected that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence; and

2. two complainants challenged whether ads (b), (c) and (d) had been responsibly targeted because they were likely to be seen by children.

Context Logic Inc trading as Wish.com said that their ads were comprised of content from listings provided by third-party sellers on the Wish marketplace. Wish.com used techniques to identify and remove potentially objectionable content, which included filtering based on keywords in listing titles and tags applied to the listing. Wish.com worked with an ad partner who used filtering and other measures to prevent Wish ads from appearing in inappropriate forums.

Regarding the ads complained of, the keyword filters and image analysis used by their ad partner was not sufficient in preventing the ads from being displayed in general audience forums. Wish.com halted UK campaigns with the ad partner in May 2020. They said that they were not currently advertising through the ad partner until they had more confidence in their ability to identify mature content and prevent it from being shown in general audience forums. Wish.com agreed that the ads may not have been appropriate for all forums, such as those where the audience were likely to be comprised of a large number of minors, and they were taking action to address the issue. However, they did not agree that the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1.Upheld

All four ads depicted a range of garments, including nipple tassels shown on exposed breasts and a cape displayed on a nude mannequin, and ads (c) and (d) depicted a sex toy. These were all available on the Wish.com website. While the images were relevant to the products sold, the ASA considered they were overtly sexual and contained explicit nudity.

We considered that consumers using apps for recipes, the news and playing solitaire would not expect to see sexually explicit content. We therefore concluded that in those contexts the ads were likely to cause both serious and widespread offence.

2. Upheld

As referenced above, we considered that the ads were overtly sexual and contained explicit nudity. We considered they therefore were not suitable to be seen by children. Ads (b) and (c) were seen in the Google News app and ad (d) was seen in a Solitaire game. We considered that, given the content of the apps, they were likely to have a broad appeal to all ages including children, and therefore any ads that appeared within the apps should have been suitable for children.

While Wish.com and their ad partner had used measures such as keyword filters and image analysis to try to target them to a suitable audience, it had not prevented the ads being shown in mediums where children were likely to be part of the audience. Because the ads contained explicit sexual images and had been placed in apps that were likely to be used by children, we concluded that the ads had been placed irresponsibly and breached the Code.

The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Context Logic Inc t/a Wish.com to ensure that their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

misguided banned poster Two posters for Missguided, a clothing company:

  • a. The first poster, seen on the London Underground on 14 November 2019, featured a model wearing a pink wrap mini-dress, which showed her legs and cleavage.

  • b. The second poster, seen on 24 November on a train station platform, featured the same model leaning against a side table wearing an unbuttoned jacket with nothing underneath, sheer tights and high heels.

Issue The complainants, who believed the images were overly sexualised and objectified women, challenged whether:

  1. ad (a); and

  2. ad (b) were offensive.

  3. One of the complainants also challenged whether ad (a) was appropriate for display where it could be seen by children.

ASA Decision

1. Not upheld

The ASA considered that the pose adopted by the model in ad (a) was no more than mildly sexual. The wrap style of the dress and her pose, with one arm slightly behind her, meant that it fell open just by her breast, which we considered was likely to be in keeping with how the dress would ordinarily be worn, but featured no explicit nudity. We also considered the focus of the ad was on the model in general and on the featured dress, rather than on a specific part of her body. While we acknowledged that some people might find the ad distasteful and the clothing revealing, we considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as overtly sexual or as objectifying either the model in the ad or women in general and we therefore concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Upheld The model in ad (b) was wearing a blazer with nothing underneath, which exposed the side of her breast, and which was coupled with sheer tights, sheer gloves and underwear. We considered she would be seen as being in a state of undress and that the focus was on her chest area and lower abdomen rather than the clothing being advertised. We also noted that her head was tilted back, with her mouth slightly open, and her leg was bent and raised, which we considered was likely to be seen as a sexually suggestive pose. We considered that the sexually suggestive styling and pose would be seen as presenting women as sexual objects. Because the ad objectified women, we concluded that ad (b) was likely to cause serious offence.

3. Not upheld Ad (a) was seen on the London Underground and we accepted that children were likely to have seen the ad. However, for the reasons stated in point 1 above, we considered the image was not overtly sexual, and therefore concluded that it had not been placed inappropriately.

Ad (b) must not appear again in its current form. We told Missguided Ltd not to use advertising that objectified women and which was likely to cause serious offence.

More politically correct nonsense from the advert censors who ban sexy fashion advert.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

prettylittlething neon light A pre-roll Youtube ad for Prettylittlething.com, a women’s clothing retailer, seen on 29 October 2019. The ad opened with a woman wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers and a cut-out orange bra, dragging a neon bar and looking over her shoulder. The ad proceeded to show women in seductive poses, wearing various lingerie style clothing and holding the neon bars.

A complainant, who believed the ad was overly sexualised and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible.

Prettylittlething.com Ltd stated that the ad highlighted how they supported and promoted diversity through bold and distinctive fashion of all shapes and sizes which focused on different trends. They said they had not intended to create an ad which was deemed offensive and irresponsible. They said they worked hard to promote a positive and healthy body image that was inclusive and empowered women. Prettylittlething.com provided a mood board to demonstrate the creative theory behind the ad and explained that the ad was inspired by their customers who seek the latest rave style clothing.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted that the ad began with a woman looking over her shoulder in a seductive manner wearing black vinyl, high waisted chaps-style knickers which revealed her buttocks. A later scene depicted a woman wearing a transparent mesh bodysuit. The woman was lying on her side with her knee bent up and with a neon bar in between her legs. The next scene showed a woman in a bikini top, holding the neon bar behind her shoulders in a highly sexualised pose which accentuated her breasts. The woman was then depicted crouched down with her legs apart, wearing chaps-style trousers to reveal string bikini bottoms. We considered that the cumulative effect of the scenes meant that overall, the products had been presented in an overly-sexualised way that invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and was irresponsible.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd not to use advertising that was likely to cause serious offence by objectifying women.

3 pints in an evening is considered binge drinking!…Unrealistic nanny state consumption guidelines result in absurd censorship by ASA who argue that anything above 2/3rds of a pint in an evening could be considered ‘excessive’

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

folly bar boston A Facebook post by The Folly Bar in Boston, Lincolnshire, seen on 29 September 2019, featured text which stated Buy your own keg for you and your friends! Over 50 cold pints available at your fingertips — Have it next to your table in the main room, our private room or outside in the beer garden! The ad featured an image of a man in a suit with a pint of beer leaning on a bar, under which sat a keg of beer.

A complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged the excessive consumption of alcohol.

The Folly Bar said that the keg was offered to groups of 10 or more people. As that offered up to five pints of beer to each person, they did not deem such consumption as excessive. They said the keg was predominantly purchased for birthdays and stag parties, and their staff monitored the consumption throughout. The Folly Bar said that their local Licensing Authority saw no issue with the ad, and that the keg was only available for pre-purchase, where consumers were required to complete an online form confirming how many people would be attending the event. They said they would amend the ad so that it stated For group bookings.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The CAP Code required marketing communications to contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, including excessive drinking. The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the text Buy your own keg for you and your friends! Over 50 pints available at your fingertips — Have it next to your table in the main room, our private room or outside in the beer garden to mean that they and a group of friends could purchase the keg, which offered them 50 pints of beer, in various areas of the pub, and consequently implied it was readily available to any size group.

We acknowledged The Folly Bar’s comment that the product was available to groups of 10 or more people. However, that was not accounted for in the ad, and we noted that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) defined binge drinking as having over eight units in a single session for men and over six units in a single session for women. We understood that the UK’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO)’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines advised both men and women not to drink regularly more than 14 units a week. It also advised consumers not to save up their 14 units, and that it was best to evenly spread them across the week. We understood that five pints of 5% beer such as the one on offer equated to 14 units, which went beyond the ONS’s definition of binge drinking, and went against the CMO’s advice to spread the units evenly across the week. In light of the above, we considered the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged the excessive consumption of alcohol and was therefore in breach of the Code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Folly Bar to ensure that their future advertising did not encourage excessive drinking.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

pcspecialist logo A TV ad for PCSpecialist, a manufacturer and seller of bespoke PC computers, was seen on 17 September 2019. It featured three men performing different activities on computers, including producing music and coding. The male voice-over stated, It’s the beginning of the end. The end of following. It’s the start of freedom, individuality, choice. It’s an uprising. An insurgence. For the players, the gamers, the ‘I’ll sleep laters’, the creators, the editors, the music makers. The techies, the coders, the illustrators. Bespoke, customised, like no other. From the specialists for the specialists. PC Specialist.

Eight complainants, who believed that the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting men in roles that were stereotypically male and implying that it was only men who were interested in technology and computers, challenged whether it breached the Code.

Response

PCSpecialist said their customer base was 87.5% male, aged between 15 and 35 years. Their product, branding and service had been developed for and aimed at that target audience and the characters in the ad therefore represented a cross-section of the PCSpecialist core customer base. PCSpecialist said the characters looked into the camera as though they were using a PCSpecialist machine. They did not believe they represented negative stereotypes and were playing the roles of entrepreneurs, forward-thinkers and hard workers. They considered there was no comparison between men and women in the ad and the ad did not imply that women were not interested in computers. They said the ad did not juxtapose men using computers with women not using computers, nor did the ad explicitly state that women did not use computers or that the service was unsuitable for them.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The BCAP Code stated Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. The joint CAP and BCAP Advertising guidance on depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence said that gender-stereotypical characteristics included occupations or positions and also attributes or behaviours usually associated with a specific gender. It added that ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were always uniquely associated with one gender; were the only options available to one gender; or were never carried out or displayed by another gender. The guidance also stated that, subject to the guiding principles, neither the rule nor the guidance were intended to prevent ads from featuring one gender only, including in ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender.

The ad began with a PC exploding and went on to state freedom, individuality and choice before referencing a number of specialist and creative roles in quick succession, encompassing leisure pursuits and professional positions, not just limited to information technology, but in the creative and artistic industries and entertainment, namely: players/gamers, creators, editors, music makers, techies, coders and illustrators. We considered that the voice-over and fast-paced series of scenes in the ad conveyed a sense of excitement and opportunity and implied that those depicted in the ad were innovative, highly skilled and achieving excellence in the roles and careers mentioned and that those watching should aspire to excel in them too. However, the ad repeatedly cut to images of only men, who were both prominent and central to the ad’s message of opportunity and excellence across multiple desirable career paths. We therefore considered that the ad implied that excellence in those roles and fields would be seen as the preserve of men. Because of that, we considered that the ad went further than just featuring a cross-section of the advertiser’s core customer base and implied that only men could excel in those roles.

Although the guidance did not prohibit ads from featuring only one gender, we considered that because the ad strongly implied only men could excel in the specialisms and roles depicted we concluded 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 PCSpecialist Ltd to ensure their advertising did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm, including by suggesting that excellence in multiple career paths was uniquely associated with one gender.

Read more ow.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

brewdog sober poster An outdoor poster ad for an alcohol-free beer by BrewDog, seen in October 2019, included text which stated SOBER AS A MOTHERFU next to the image of a beer can with the text BREWDOG, PUNK AF and ALCOHOL FREE IPA written on it.

The ASA received 26 complaints:

  1. All the complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

  2. Sixteen complainants also challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for display in a medium where it could be seen by children. Response

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA understood the ad was featured in billboard media on which no restrictions had been placed and that it was therefore viewable by a general audience, including children.

One complainant identified that the ad was placed immediately outside a primary school. We considered older children and adults who saw the ad would understand MOTHERFU was a truncated version of the expletive motherfucker. We acknowledged that the word was not displayed in its entirety; however, we considered the word motherfucker was clearly being alluded to, and motherfu would therefore be understood as a clear reference to that swear word. We considered that word was so likely to offend a general audience that such a reference should not appear in media where it was viewable by such an audience. We concluded the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and that it was not appropriate for display in media where it could be seen by children.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told BrewDog plc to ensure they avoided causing serious or widespread offence by, for example, avoiding references to expletives in media targeted to a general audience which included children.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

kfc what the cluck poster A poster ad and a press ad for KFC:

a. The poster, seen at bus stops and other locations during September 2019, featured the phrase WHAT THE CLUCK?! £1.99 FILL UP LUNCH alongside an image of food items on a menu.

b. The press ads seen in the Metro and the Sun also during September 2019 were the same as the poster except one featured the elongated word cluuuuuck.

Issue

1. All of the complainants, who believed the word cluck had been substituted in place of an expletive, challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were offensive.

2. Many of the complainants also challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.

Response

KFC said the word cluck was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken, which was in context and wholly relevant to the deal, the product featured and the brand.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA understood that the use of the word cluck was a reference to the sound a chicken made and that that was relevant to the product being advertised. We also acknowledged that the ad did not contain the expletive fuck. We recognised that there were several variations of the what the206 expression, all commonly used to denote surprise or outrage, and not all of which finished with an expletive. The chicken sound effect used to complete the expression in the radio and TV ads in the campaign did not therefore directly substitute for an expletive. However, the written word cluck was used in the poster and press ads and we considered people would interpret that as alluding specifically to the expression, what the fuck. We did not consider that this connection would be removed because an elongated spelling of the word cluck was used in ad (b).

We considered that fuck was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether the ad was featured in a newspaper which had an adult target audience. We also considered it likely that parents may want their children to avoid the word, or obvious allusions to it. The poster was likely to be seen by people of all ages and while we recognised that the press ads would have a primarily adult audience, they could still be seen by children. For those reasons we concluded that the allusion to the word fuck in ads with a general adult audience was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, and that it was irresponsible for them to appear where children could see them.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We KFC to avoid in future alluding to expletives that were so likely to offend.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

primevil poster A poster and a billboard promoting a Halloween event, seen in Norwich in September 2019:

The poster stated Norfolk’s Biggest Scare Experience PRIMEVIL SCREAMING WON’T HELP! and featured an image of a lumberjack holding a chainsaw and wearing a bloodied hessian mask and apron. Further text stated Street Performers, Bar, BBQ, Hot Snacks, Live Music, Refreshments and 17 Nights of Terror — 5 Frightening Haunts.

Three complainants challenged whether they were likely to cause fear or distress for children and were therefore inappropriate for outdoor display.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted that ads had appeared on outdoor poster sites, and that two of the three complainants had reported their children becoming distressed by the image. We acknowledged that Dinosaur Adventure had replaced the ads after having been notified of the complaints. We noted the lumberjack character’s prominence in the ads and the menacing look he gave, baring teeth and showing the whites of his eyes. Alongside the blood-stained apron, chainsaw and mask, we considered that the image was likely to distress young children, and that it was unsuitable for display where it was likely to be seen by them, particularly but not only in combination with the text PRIMEVIL SCREAMING WON’T HELP!, which was presented as though it was written in blood.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Norfolk Dinosaur Park Ltd t/a Dinosaur Adventure to ensure that future marketing that was likely to cause fear or distress for young children did not appear where they were likely to see it.

But surely healthier than ASA’s PC world that encourages amassing followers through complaining, whingeing, victimhood, getting all offended, and bullying others who don’t agree

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

popjam video A TV ad for PopJam, a social media app designed for 7 to 12 year olds, seen in July 2019 on CITV. An on-screen image of a phone showed an illustrative scroll of a PopJam news feed which displayed various users’ PopJam virtual artwork. Large text on the right of the image stated LIKES with a heart emoji and with an increasing figure. The next clip showed an image of a phone with a different virtual drawing on its screen. Large text to the left stated FOLLOWERS with an image of a number rising quickly from 96 to 10,000. A star emoji was seen increasing in size as the figures increased. A female voice-over stated, Get likes and followers to level up.

A complainant, who was concerned that the ad’s encouragement to get likes and followers to level up could be detrimental to children’s mental health and affect their self-esteem, challenged whether the ad could cause harm to those under 18 years of age and was irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA understood that PopJam was an app designed for 7- to 12-year-old children and that the ad was seen on a children’s TV channel. The ad featured the claim get likes and followers to level up, which we considered explicitly encouraged children to seek likes and followers in order to progress through the app. We understood that there were other ways of advancing through the app, but that was not explained in the ad. We considered that the suggestion that the acquisition of likes and followers was the only means of progression was likely to give children the impression that popularity on social media was something that should be pursued because it was desirable in its own right. We were therefore concerned that the ad’s encouragement to gain likes and followers could cause children to develop an unhealthy perception that popularity on social media was inherently valuable which was likely to be detrimental to their mental health and self-esteem. As such, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause harm to those under 18 and was irresponsible.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told SuperAwesome Trading Ltd t/a PopJam not to use the claim get likes and followers to level up in future and to ensure that they did not suggest that gaining popularity and the acquisition of likes and followers were desirable things in their own right.

Read more me_asa.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

milkshake farage  A tweet on Burger King’s Twitter page, seen on 18 May 2019, included the text Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying

Twenty-four complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive because they believed it encouraged violence and anti-social behaviour.

 Burger King responded that the tweet was intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures. Burger King stated that it did not endorse violence and that was made clear with a follow-up tweet posted after responses to the tweet under complaint. The follow-up tweet stated, We’d never endorse violence — or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ad was posted the day after a branch of McDonalds Restaurants in Edinburgh had chosen not to sell milkshakes or ice-cream products during a nearby political rally addressed by Nigel Farage, because milkshakes had been thrown at political figures in recent weeks. Those events had been widely reported in the media and we therefore considered that people who saw the tweet were likely to be aware of what had happened and that Nigel Farage was due to make more public appearances in Scotland that weekend. In that context we considered that the ad was likely to be seen as a reference to the recent incidents of milkshaking political figures. Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to milkshake Nigel Farage. We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.