Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A poster for 'Dream Lounge' ladies and gentlemen's club featured an image of a woman from the waist down, taken from the side. The woman was shown leaning against a pole with one knee raised, and wearing stockings, suspenders and knickers. The woman's midriff and the side of her bottom were visible. Text on the poster stated "Come and enjoy our intimate atmosphere at Swindon's Premier Nightspot".
The complainant, whose young child had seen the ad, objected that:
1. it was of an overtly sexual nature and likely to cause serious or widespread offence; and
2. it was unsuitable for public display where it could be seen by children.
Dream Lounge stated that they had chosen the image carefully to advertise the service they provided and, although they regretted that the complainant had been offended, considered that it was decent and not provocative. They said they were aware that their business was not to everybody's taste, but that they carefully abided by rules set out by the local Council and Police Authority. Dream Lounge considered that children were likely to have seen women dressed in less clothing than depicted on the poster on the TV or at the beach or swimming pool, and that more suggestive ads could also be viewed by them on the internet. They noted that it was fashionable for young women to wear outfits that exposed their midriffs in summer, and that they were not asked to cover up. Dream Lounge stated that the phrase "intimate atmosphere" was not sexual and was not intended to be, and that many pubs and restaurants also used this phrase to describe a cosy and comfortable environment. They stated that they had ensured suitability by taking advice from the designer of the poster and the owner of the billboard site.
KM Promotions, who owned the billboard site, stated that the ad was suitable for public display as the image, being a side section of the model, did not feature or suggest nudity of intimate areas. They also stated that there was no offensive suggestion or text on the ad, and that they had received no complaints directly.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the image featured a woman dressed in underwear and stockings, and was intended to promote a pole-dancing lounge. We noted that the woman was pictured from the side and that only her midriff and side of her bottom were uncovered and, although the model's pose was likely to be regarded as provocative, we considered that the general presentation of the image was sexually suggestive rather than overtly sexual. We acknowledged that some consumers might find the service and image distasteful, but did not consider that the ad was so sexual in nature as to be generally offensive or unsuitable for targeted outdoor advertising.
On this 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.
2. Not upheld
The ASA considered that, as the ad was sexually suggestive, it was unsuitable for untargeted public display where it was likely to be seen by children, and should be subject to a placement restriction to prevent it from appearing within 100 m of schools. However, we understood that in this instance the poster site reported by the complainant would not fall within such a restriction. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social Responsibility), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.