ASA Adjudication on Keen Thinking Ltd
Keen Thinking Ltd t/a
The Carlson Suite
The Aspen Building
Vantage Point Business Village
29 July 2009
Number of complaints:
An ad in Recruitment International magazine, showed a woman wearing lingerie. The woman was tied up with red and white tape and her arms were bound to her body. Text above the image stated "Works better without red tape".
The complainant objected that the ad was offensive, sexist and degrading to women.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Keen Thinking said they chose the image because it was eye catching and represented the bureaucratic changes that affected organisations and charities not registered for VAT, which resulted in their liability being increased by an average of 12%. They disagreed that the ad was sexist or offensive and did not consider that most people would find the ad offensive. They argued that the image was not degrading to women and merely showed the constraints of "red tape" and the subsequent liberation from it. They explained the advert appeared in a respected recruitment industry publication and believed some people would always be offended by almost anything in advertising. Keen Thinking said they would use a different image in future.
Recruitment International said the readership of the magazine was split equally between men and women and that it was not in their interest to publish any material that was offensive to either. They also said they had not received any complaints about the ad.
The ASA acknowledged that the complainant had been offended but noted the image of being tied up in 'red tape' was intended to be a humorous representation of bureaucratic restrictions. We concluded that, although some people might find the ad distasteful, it was unlikely to cause widespread or serious offence to readers of Recruitment International.
We considered this ad under CAP Code Clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency) but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)