I’ve not spoken about the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a while, but one adjudication caught my eye this week, that I thought was worth a few words.
The ASA made a ruling today against Signature Creative Solutions (SCS) Ltd t/a Bank BUG in relation to a magazine ad for fish bait seen in Carp World magazine on 4 March 2016.
According to the ASA the ad “featured the body of a woman lying on her side wearing a bra and stockings, with her thigh and torso exposed. The woman appeared to be removing her underwear, with her right hand placed on her thigh, and her thumb between her underwear and skin.”
We could just stop there really. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why the ASA had a problem with this and why they received a complaint. But just in case we and not sure this is an ad for FISH BAIT. I’ll say that again, FISH BAIT.
In response, SCS, could not understand what all the fuss was about. They would never knowingly publish something offensive they said; it wasn’t an explicit photo; and the ad didn’t contain any discriminatory comments about women. Well, that’s alright then. How about the magazine’s publisher Angling Publications? They agreed with SCS. Clearly the ad could not be seen as being demeaning to women. What’s more the explained that the readership of Carpworld magazine was predominantly male, and so it was unlikely that they would be offended by the content.
So, let’s for argument sake say we accept the SCS and Angling Publications arguments thus far. Now let’s move on the just how a woman lying on her side wearing a bra and stockings and potentially about to remove her underwear related to the product being advertised – FISH BAIT. SCS argued that it was totally relevant to the advertised product because the model in question had been used throughout their online advertising campaign, and the image also related to the sub-heading “It’s never looked so good!”. Angling Publications added they had run many ads with similar images in the past, which had proved successful in creating brand awareness, though did concede the ad was not directly related to the product. However, this was fine because the idea of the ad was to catch the reader’s attention, which they felt it did successfully.
Can I just check this is 2016, not 1972? Seriously; in what little school boy world is this deemed acceptable? You are advertising FISH BAIT, and you actually think having a woman in her underwear and accompanying text stating “it’s never looked so good”, where the it in ‘it’s’ is clearly the woman, is perfectly fine? Being bereft of actual ideas and totally ineffective at coming up inventive and interesting advertising campaigns is not really an excuse to just be a bunch of sexist pricks. Maybe you’ve missed out on your true calling life to name and do the art work for beers with names like Leg-Spreader; Raging Bitch, Mouth Raper, Top Totty, Naked Ladies etc.
Clearly the ASA told SCS that they should ensure that future ads did not portray women in a manner that objectified them and which was likely to cause serious offence, because apparently they needed to be actually TOLD this.