Ad descriptionA circular for Wahoo Bar in Southampton, distributed on 16 March 2011, featured a topless woman with the word "Wahoo" placed over each of her nipples, wearing a small pair of knickers which she was pulling down to her hip on one side, ripped tights and surrounded by smoke. Text stated "The Fuel Girls. AS SEEN ON PLAYBOY TV! from the guys that bring you FRAT PARTY A NIGHT OF FILTH & FIRE! ... LIVE FIRE & STRIP SHOW! SEXY WET & WILD BAR SHOW. £1.50 PINTS, JAGERBOMBS, ALCOPOPS. £2 DOUBLES ... ". The other side of the circular featured six women wearing underwear and ripped tights walking towards the camera.
1. Two complainants, who had received the circular through their letterboxes, challenged whether the images in the ad were offensive and unsuitable for a circular which could be seen by anyone, including children.
2. The ASA challenged whether the ad linked alcohol with sexual activity.
Cavendish Bars Trading Ltd (CBT) apologised for any offence caused by the images in the ad. They agreed with the complainants that the images were unacceptable and that the circular was not suitable for distribution to households. They explained that the ad had been produced by an external promoter and that they had not seen or approved the ad prior to its distribution. They recognised that responsibility for the ad rested with them rather than the external promoter and said they had taken steps to ensure that future ads would not include similar images and would be approved centrally prior to distribution.
The ASA considered the image on the back of the circular, of the six women wearing underwear and walking towards the camera, was not explicit because the models were not topless, and there was nothing sexually suggestive about their poses. We considered that this image was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence in an untargeted medium where it could be seen by anyone, including children.
However, we considered that the image of the woman on the front of the circular with the word "Wahoo" covering each of her nipples was explicit and gratuitous as most of the woman's breasts were exposed. We also considered that the way in which she was pulling her knickers down on one side was sexually suggestive. Because of the explicit and sexually suggestive nature of that image, we considered that the ad was irresponsible as it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and was therefore unsuitable for an untargeted medium where it could be seen by anyone, including children.
On this point, 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).
We considered that the image of the woman on the front of the circular was explicit and sexually suggestive. We further considered that the text "The Fuel Girls. AS SEEN ON PLAYBOY TV! from the guys that bring you FRAT PARTY A NIGHT OF FILTH & FIRE! ... LIVE FIRE & STRIP SHOW! SEXY WET & WILD BAR SHOW." had sexual connotations. We noted that the ad also contained text regarding the alcoholic drinks that would be available on the night and their prices. We considered that by including those references to alcohol alongside the sexually suggestive image and text, the ad linked alcohol with sexual activity.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.5 18.5 Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We welcomed CBT's assurance that they would not use similar images in their ads in future and we reminded them to not link alcohol with sexual