Ad description

A brochure, for a range of stationery products called "holy crap erin smith art", featured a number of different products which had images of Victorian children alongside quotes. One quote stated "I'm having one of those days where I just want to say "fuck you!" grab a couple of beers, and deploy the emergency slide ...".


The complainant challenged whether featuring the words "fuck you!" alongside an image of a child was offensive.


Enesco Ltd (Enesco) said they had featured the product in advertising produced for trade-only brochures and had since deleted it from their 2013 trade catalogues.

A law firm, representing the artist Erin Smith and Erin Smith Art, said the word "fuck" in British media and marketing was not uncommon and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. They also said the advertised products were sold in speciality shops patronised by those specifically looking for edgy, non-standard merchandise whom they believed would not find the image and language offensive. The photograph in question was of the artist's mother-in-law as a child and was used with permission. They believed that, while some may find it distasteful, it did not breach the Code.


Not upheld

The ASA considered that some readers might find the words "fuck you" alongside the image of a child distasteful. However, we considered that in the context of a brochure directed at traders only, which promoted various, similarly-themed stationery products produced by the artist, it was unlikely to cause serious offence to the target audience, or cause widespread offence amongst them.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule  4.1 4.1 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.


No further action necessary.

CAP Code (Edition 12)


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