Published on 22 - February - 2012
ASA ban on 'sexually explicit' workwear adFollowing on from last week's news that Mem's DIY poster ad was banned for being sexist, the ASA have now ruled against a plumbing and heating merchant's ad for having "strong sexual content [which] was demeaning and offensive" and breached rules of social responsibility.
Eight complaints were made about the poster advertising a competition to win a night out from workwear brand Scruffs, which is part of the BSS Group Ltd, owned by Travis Perkins plc. According to the ASA, the ad appeared as a poster campaign in several locations close to both a nursery and a primary school.
The BSS Group said: "The objective of the ad was to promote the competition in good humour and many of [our] ads use double-entendres and innuendo to create a 'Carry-on' style humour."
The company added that this style of humour was "illustrated through the strap-line 'It's gonna get dirty,'" which it said "alluded to the tradesmen getting soiled on site during the course of their working day."
"Whilst [we] strive to be different, [we] work hard not to be overtly sexual or sexist," the group added.
On the subject of the poster ad's placement, BSS said the campaign was "intended to be located on billboards within a one kilometre radius of [its] key trade dealer premises ... and [it] had taken steps to ensure that the poster ads were not displayed near schools or near sensitive communities." It added that the media owners had placed two of the ads outside those areas as "a result of human error [which] may have lead to the ads being seen by children."
The company added that these ads had since been removed.
The ASA said it had taken on board the "tongue-in-cheek representation of the morning after an 'ultimate lads' bash.'" Nonetheless, the watchdog "considered that customers would interpret the portrayal of the woman in the back of the van, particularly the woman in her underwear, as a suggestion that they had played a sexual role in the lads' night out and morning after story that was being portrayed."
It added that the text 'It's gonna get dirty' would be interpreted as referring to a sexual activity that was likely to take place.
"We concluded that, in the context of a promotion for work-related clothing, the portrayal of the women within such a strong sexual context was demeaning and offensive and that the ad was therefore unsuitable for public display."
The ASA added that the portrayal of the women in a "sexually provocative" way meant the ad was not suitable to be placed where children were likely to see it, and therefore breached the social responsibility rule of the CAP code.
The ban comes as BSS' parent company Travis Perkins plc released its year-end results today, revealing group revenue up 52% at £4,779m. The BSS acquisition synergies for the year ending December 31, 2011 "exceeded expectations" at £20m. The company said the inclusion of BSS "contributed the major part of increase in profits."
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