Although they only account for a small part of the ASA’s work, complaints about taste and decency are often the most high profile.
Upheld decisions can result in widespread adverse publicity for the company concerned and marketers can be required to have posters pre-vetted by CAP’s Copy Advice team for two years if they publish an offensive poster.
The rules state ads must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and specifies that special care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age.
When making a decision on whether an ad is likely to cause widespread offence, we take into account: the audience who are likely to see the ad; the context in which the ad appears; the product it’s promoting; and prevailing standards in society. To help judge those standards, from time-to-time, we commission major consumer research to find out what concerns people and where they think the line should be drawn.