Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld and one Not upheld.
A video ad for bras from www.perfectsculptbras.com, seen in a Mashable story on Snapchat on 16 July 2017, depicted a woman trying on different bras and tops.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was:
1. offensive because it sexualised and objectified the woman; and
2. irresponsibly targeted.
AN & Associates did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by AN & Associates’ lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
1. Not upheld
The ad depicted a woman trying on a top and looking toward the camera as though she was looking into a mirror to assess her appearance. She adjusted her cleavage with a neutral expression and put a finger to her lips as though considering something. In the next shot, she had put on a strapless bra that pushed up her cleavage, over which she put on the same top and smiled. She was then shown in a different push-up bra before putting on another top. We considered that the ad illustrated the difference in the woman’s appearance before and after putting on the bra. Although she was shown partially undressed with an emphasis on her breasts, we considered that this was relevant to the product being advertised. We also noted that her actions and poses reflected the situation depicted (trying on clothes in front of a mirror) and in that context we did not consider that they were overly sexualised or objectified the woman. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On that point, we investigated the ad under 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), but did not find it in breach.
The woman was shown wearing only a bra, or wearing a revealing top, and the ad focussed on her breasts. The quick cuts between scenes served to emphasise this. We considered that while the partial nudity and gestures were relevant to the product and not offensively sexualised in and of themselves, the ad was inappropriate to be seen by children. We therefore expected that AN & Associates had targeted only to those users who had reported their age as being 18 and over, and that they had supported that age-restriction by using interest-based targeting factors which were likely to describe an adult audience and exclude a child audience.
We understood that the ad campaign was conducted using Snap Inc's self-service tool, Snapchat Ad Manager, in which advertisers booked ads themselves and were able to select age-targeting to apply to their campaign. We understood that AN & Associates had not applied any age-targeting to the campaign. We also did not see any evidence of interest-based factors being used to restrict the audience to adults. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to have been seen by children. We concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The ad must not appear again in an untargeted medium. We told AN & Associates to ensure that their ads were responsibly targeted in future. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.