Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
An outdoor poster ad for Get Hard, an online sex toy store, seen in January and February 2022, featured a person wearing a gimp mask and a background of aubergine and peach emojis. Large text superimposed in-front of the person’s face said “GET HARD” and “ANYONE CAN GET INTO IT!”. The ad also included the URL “www.WeGetHard.com”.
The ASA received two complaints. The complainants challenged whether the ad was:
1. offensive because they believed it was overly sexualised; and
2. inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where children could see it.
1. & 2. Get Hard Ltd said they used the tagline “Get Hard. Anyone can. Get into it!” to encourage an attitude of passion, grit, empathy, affection and self-care, that could be reached by anyone.
The ad featured a person in a mask with their mouth open. They referred to an ad they had seen previously, which they considered was more sexualised because it featured a woman at the point of orgasm.
They acknowledged that children could have seen the ad. They believed a child would see a man in a mask and some emojis that they may have recognised.
Get Hard said they wanted to encourage people to be open with themselves and have fun with the topic of sex, rather than the over serious and frigid attitude they believed was held by many people.
Billboard Media, the media site owner, did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ad was displayed at an outdoor poster site in London, which was an untargeted medium and where the image was likely to be seen by children and adults.
The ad featured a person in what appeared to be a gimp mask and large text that stated “GET HARD”. We understood that a gimp mask was an item of clothing worn by some people during sex who liked to be dominated. We considered that the image of the person wearing a gimp mask, which also emphasised their open mouth, was overtly sexual. We also considered that the text “GET HARD” was likely to be understood as slang for an erection, which we considered was sexually suggestive. We further understood that the peach and aubergine emojis were commonly used as references to a bottom and a penis, respectively, and often had sexual connotations. Taking the image of the person in the gimp mask together with the references to ‘getting hard’ and the use of peach and aubergine emojis, we considered that the ad was overtly sexual.
We concluded that, because the ad was overtly sexual and was displayed in an untargeted medium where it had the potential to be seen by a large number of people, including children, it was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was irresponsible. 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: age; disability; gender; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. 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 outdoor advertising. We told Get Hard Ltd to ensure that their advertising was suitably targeted and to exercise caution when preparing ads for display in outdoor space.