Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A regional press ad for a strip club and bar featured an image of a woman from her shoulders to her knees from behind. She was wearing lacy underwear and knee-high boots. Text over the image stated "Excuses … Sorry baby, the car broke down". Text next to the image stated "BEAVERS STRIP CLUB & BAR, UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT, NEW DANCE PRICES 9pm - 12pm £15 & £20, FREE ENTRY BEFORE 10PM".
Two complainants challenged whether the ad:
1. was likely to cause widespread or serious offence; and
2. was irresponsible because it would be widely seen throughout the local community.
Beavers Strip Club & Bar (Beavers) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
Newsquest Ltd said that they reviewed Beaver's advertising before publication. They said that the original ad had included four images of women and additional wording. However, they said they had asked Beavers to amend the ad. They confirmed that the ad appeared on page 39 of the Watford Observer.
The ASA was disappointed by Beavers 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 Beavers of their obligation to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA acknowledged that the ad was for a strip club and bar and, as such, the image was relevant to the service being advertised. We considered that the image of the woman from behind, showing her from the shoulders to the knees, wearing only underwear and knee-high boots was sexually suggestive. We considered the text "Sorry baby, the car broke down" implied that it was customary for users of the service to do so without the approval of their partners, which, given the sexualised nature of the activity, and coupled with the sexually suggestive image, we considered was demeaning to women. Because of that, 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).
We noted that the ad was half a page in size and included a sexually suggestive image of a woman, which comprised over a third of the ad. We considered the ad was likely to be widely seen throughout the local community and, because we considered the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Beavers not to use images and text that were likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the medium in which they appear.