An ad for a used car dealership appeared as a sponsored post on the complainant's Facebook news feed. The ad featured an image of a woman, visible from the shoulders down, facing away from the camera and resting one knee on a countertop. She was wearing a shirt but appeared to be naked from the waist down. Text beside the woman was accompanied by the Aston Martin logo and stated "You know you're not the first, but do you really care? - ASTON MARTIN PRE OWED[sic]". The image and its strapline had been posted by Belvue Cars with the accompanying text "Need we say more?".
The complainant, who considered that the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Belvue Cars Ltd said that they had not created the original image and strapline, and because it already existed and carried the Aston Martin logo, they had understood it to be acceptable for re-posting on their Facebook site. Having considered the complaint, they stated that they agreed the ad could cause serious offence and that they had therefore withdrawn it from use.
Facebook advised that the ad violated their own guidelines on advertising and confirmed that it had been removed from the website.
The ASA acknowledged that Belvue Cars Ltd had not created the original image and strapline. We also understood that, although it bore the Aston Martin logo, it was not official advertising for Aston Martin and was not in any way associated with that company. We considered that at the point the image and its strapline were re-posted by Belvue Cars on their Facebook page, together with the company name "Belvue Cars" and the comment "Need we say more?" the content took a promotional form and that it was Belvue Cars’ responsibility to ensure that it complied with the requirements of the CAP Code.
We considered that the image of the partially naked woman, whose head was not visible in the picture, together with the text "You know you're not the first, but do you really care?", as well as the comment "Need we say more?", presented a sexist and objectified view of women that was likely to cause serious and widespread offence to those who saw it as a sponsored post in the Facebook news feed for Belvue Cars. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
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. We told Belvue Cars Ltd to ensure that all of their advertising complied with the CAP Code, regardless of its origins.