Two issues were investigated of which both were Upheld.
A bus stop poster, for a table dancing club, was headed "FYEO ... FOR YOUR EYES ONLY ... The Ultimate Table Dancing Club". The image featured two women in an embrace, in a swimming pool. The woman at the forefront of the image appeared to be topless, and had her head arched back and her eyes closed.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was:
1. offensive, because he believed it demeaned women and portrayed them as sex objects; and
2. unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children, because of its sexually suggestive nature.
1. & 2.
For Your Eyes Only Ltd (FYEO) said they did not feel that the image used was inappropriate or offensive in any way and that it was no more revealing, or in some cases less revealing, than images used in ads for lingerie retailers. They said they understood the nature of their business could be seen as controversial and that that may sometimes prejudice the way people reacted to their advertising, so they were always careful about how and where they advertised. They felt that, because the image used was not overly revealing and there was no nudity on display, it was not offensive. They declined to comment on whether the image was sexist or degrading to women, because they felt that was a subjective opinion.
1. & 2. Upheld
Whilst the ASA acknowledged that the nature of the service advertised meant that any advertising which involved images of women, was likely to be seen as at least mildly sexual, we considered that the image in question did not fall into that category. We accepted that the nudity in the image was not overt but we considered that the model in the forefront of the image clearly appeared to be nude above the waist, because the majority of her breast was visible. We further considered that the models appeared to be engaged in a passionate sexual embrace and, in particular, that the facial expressions of both models were suggestive of sexual arousal.
We noted that the ad appeared in an untargeted medium and therefore had the potential to be seen by a large number of people who were likely to find the image offensive. Because we considered that it was overtly sexual and could be seen by anyone, including children, we concluded that the ad was unsuitable for outdoor display and therefore breached the Code.
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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.