A claim on www.bmore.co.uk a design company website stated "Who said good creativity should cost an ..." next to a picture of an amputee with one arm and leg.
An internet user challenged whether the image and text were likely to cause serious offence.
B More Creative (B More) explained that they specialised in the pharmaceutical industry targeting healthcare professionals. The campaign was aimed at Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) responsible for planning and designing local health services in England. No search engine optimisation (SEO) was in place and they did not advertise to the general public.
B More said there was no intention for the ad to be regarded as in bad taste and had been tested with a focus group of 12 marketers, who all agreed that the advertising was strong, impactful, powerful and memorable, and relevant within the current cost driven market.
The ASA understood that the ad was aimed at healthcare professionals rather than the general public, but nonetheless considered that the image and text still had the potential to offend its target audience. The website was also easily accessible by the general public.
The expression 'costing an arm and a leg' was well known and often used in speech and the media, but we noted the ad went further by using the picture of a man with only one arm and leg to replace the saying in the claim "Who said good creativity should cost an ...". We considered that the claim went further than simply being in poor taste and we were concerned that using the image for a visual pun made light of disability. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence).
The claim must not appear again in its current form.