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ASA Adjudication on Britvic Ireland Ltd

Britvic Ireland Ltd

Kylemore Park West
Dublin 10
Ireland

Date:

3 October 2012

Media:

Cinema

Sector:

Food and drink

Number of complaints:

2

Agency:

Chemistry

Complaint Ref:

A12-198528

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, one was upheld and one was Not upheld.

Ad

A cinema ad, for a soft drink, opened with a woman walking across an orange grove carrying a bottle of orange drink. Her cleavage was exposed and she said "Do you like my bits? Of course you do. Come, let me show them to you". She pushed open a door labelled "Club Orange" and said "Welcome to Club Orange". She walked through a laboratory-style room, where many women wearing short, white, open-fronted dresses, or bikini-type outfits, worked. She spoke to one: "Mmm, nice bits", who replied "Thanks, I squeezed them myself this morning". A row of women held a pair of oranges in front of their bodies as the main character said "We love bits, all bits, as long as they're juicy and natural ... We are not only interested in the size of the bits, don't be shallow ... what is important is what's inside too - like juice." At this point, she dipped her finger into an orange half and licked it. A scene outside in the orange grove featured two women carrying wooden crates containing oranges, again with their cleavage exposed. The main character said "And now we say goodbye. We know you boys can't wait to get your hands on our bits".

Issue

1. One complainant, who saw the ad before a 9.30pm screening of Prometheus (rated 15), challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible, because it was sexist, objectified women and reinforced chauvinistic stereotypes to impressionable young people of how women should portray themselves.

2. A second complainant, who saw the ad before a screening of a Batman film (rated 12A), challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and inappropriate for children.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. Britvic Ireland Ltd (Britvic) responded that this ad was part of a broader marketing campaign designed to make the Club Orange soft drink more appealing to its core target audience of 18- to 30-year-old men. They said the "bits" in Club Orange had consistently been a prominent feature of advertising for the drink and the ad was intended to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek way of highlighting the product's attributes. Britvic acknowledged that the ad might not have been to everyone's taste but stressed that they had targeted it carefully and did not believe it was either socially irresponsible or likely to cause widespread harm or offence. They stated that they had tested the ad rigorously at both the initial script stage and as a finished commercial and that it had been positively received by both men and women. They provided information about data gathered from focus groups which had seen the ad as part of their response. They also noted that the ad had been approved for screening with films rated 15 or 18 in the UK.

The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) responded that they had considered the ad in view of the CAP Code and approved it for screening before films carrying a 15 or 18 rating in the UK. They said it had first been shown in July 2011 and this was the first complaint of which they were aware.

The CAA acknowledged the apparent sexism of the ad, but considered that this was exaggerated to such an extent that it would not be taken seriously. They believed that the ad went so far in its objectification of women and use of double-entendres as to satirise the sexist overtones of past ad campaigns such as that for Wonderbra in the 1990s. The CAA said they had nevertheless recognised that immature audiences might be likely to take the ad at face value, which they had considered would be unacceptable, and for that reason they had restricted it to screening alongside films with 15 or 18 ratings. They accepted that a small number of viewers might have found the ad offensive even with the age restrictions in place but did not consider that this reaction would amount to serious or widespread offence. They said the ad was not socially irresponsible because it was clearly satirical in approach and because it had only been approved for older audiences who would understand this.

2. Britvic acknowledged that due to a technical error the ad had inadvertently been screened before a showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, which had been rated a 12A. They stressed that they had gone to great lengths to ensure the ad was suitably targeted but said they agreed that it was inappropriate to have been shown on this occasion. They stated that they had no further plans to use this ad again.

The CAA responded that they had only approved the ad for screening with films carrying a 15 certificate or higher, but that it had been awarded a 12A certificate by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). They explained that the normal course of action when the restrictions imposed on an ad by the CAA and BBFC differed was to adhere to the stricter judgement. They said in this case the screening of the ad had been affected by a systems change whereby the CAA restriction had not been carried over. The ad had therefore been booked to appear alongside some films with a 12A rating because only the 12A rating from the BBFC was shown on the new system. The CAA said they had notified the appropriate party and taken steps to avoid a recurrence of this situation.

Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA understood that the CAA had approved the ad for screening before films rated as 15 and above in the UK, and that Britvic had designed their campaign to target their core market of 18- to 30-year-old men by playing on the innuendo of the word "bits", which they said was a tongue-in-cheek way of referring to their product's key characteristic.

We noted that Britvic said they had tested the ad extensively prior to its being screened and received a positive response from both men and women. However, the information from the focus groups showed that around 30 participants had been used, all aged under 25, and that, while many participants had raised no objection to the ad, some of the older women in the groups had not liked it because of its overt male focus. We considered that that data was not sufficiently detailed in methodology or reporting of results to draw definite conclusions as to the likely public reaction to the ad.

We acknowledged that the ad featured a lot of women in bikinis or short dresses inviting men to contemplate their "bits" and that therefore in some respects the ad did reflect sexist attitudes. However, we considered that it was clear the scenario was fantastical in nature, because of the setting and context, and that it would not encourage young women to conform to the stereotype it portrayed. Whilst we accepted that some people might interpret it as objectifying women and that it would not appeal to all tastes, we considered that the average viewer would recognise the ad as an over-the-top satirical spoof and that therefore it was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence to audiences aged 15 or over.

On that point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and Offence) but did not find it in breach.

2. Upheld

We understood that due to a systems failure the ad had been screened before the 12A-rated film The Dark Knight Rises. We considered that the ad was not suitable for younger audiences who might be less able to identify its satirical intent. Because the ad contained imagery and dialogue of an adult nature but had been shown before a film carrying a 12A rating, we concluded that it was irresponsible and inappropriate for children.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 (Children).

Action

We understood that the ad was no longer being shown and that the CAA had taken corrective measures to ensure ads were always shown alongside films with the correct rating. We therefore considered that no further action was necessary.

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