An ad on the Facebook page of a live music venue, promoting a 'beer pong' night. Text in the ad stated "ALSO KNOWN AS THURSDAY NIGHT BEER PONG IS BACK!". The ad featured an image of a naked woman reclining on a bed with her legs spread apart and her head pixelated. A star-shaped graphic with a hole in the centre and a small circular shape next to the hole were superimposed over the woman's genitalia.
Two complainants, who considered the ad was overtly sexual and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Also Known As stated that the ad was used to advertise the return of their beer pong nights and it was removed from their Facebook page within 48 hours of publication. They stated that they had not received any direct complaints from members of the public.
Also Known As said that the ad was never intended to cause offence and they therefore would like to apologise if this was the case. They said that they did not condone the objectification of women or anything that incited prejudice of any kind. They said that the purpose of the ad was to generate discussion for the beer pong night and believed that it might be seen to be in poor taste, but not offensive. Also Known As said that they had reviewed their advertising and would revert to their previous marketing techniques.
Facebook responded that they considered the ad to have been a profile post as opposed to an advertisement. They considered that the ad would not have violated their Community Standards which were the relevant policies applicable to profile posts.
The ASA welcomed the fact that the ad was no longer appearing. We noted that, although the woman's breasts and genitalia were not visible, she appeared to be fully naked in the ad. We considered that the woman's reclining pose, with her legs spread apart and the crotch area being the focus of the ad, was sexually provocative and explicit in nature.
We further noted that the woman's head was pixelated and considered that the graphics super-imposed over the woman's genitalia was a reference to the game of beer pong. We considered the image of the woman bore no relevance to the event promoted by Also Known As. We considered that the anonymising effect of her pixelated head and the insinuation of the woman as an accessory in the game of beer pong presented an objectified view of women that would be regarded as being sexist by consumers. On this basis, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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 ad must not appear again in its current form.