Two website ads for HDS Builders:
a. A virtual tour link for a bathroom installation on www.hdsbuilders.co.uk, seen on 21 March 2017, featured an image of a naked woman showering.
b. A still image from the virtual tour, showing the naked woman, with the option to click on the tour, was seen on the home page of www.wetroomswales.co.uk on 15 May 2017.
The complainant challenged whether the image of the naked woman in ads (a) and (b) was offensive and unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium.
HDS Builders said people did not shower wearing clothing and therefore the image of the naked woman showering was appropriate for a virtual tour of a bathroom installation. They appreciated that some people might not find the image acceptable, but no intimate body parts were visible and they did not believe it was indecent.
The ASA acknowledged that someone using a shower would be naked, but considered that it was not essential to use such an image in order to explain how a shower worked or to highlight a bathroom installation. Although the image had some relevancy to a bathroom and shower, we nonetheless considered it was likely to be seen as sexist and to demean women by using their physical features for no other reason than to draw attention to the advertising.
The woman was fully nude, shown full length side on, with her bottom sticking out, her back arched and with some of her breast visible under her folded arms. In light of the nudity, we considered the pose was provocative and could be seen to be sexually suggestive with the tone further enhanced in the virtual tour in ad (a) because it was possible to freeze the image, zoom in and out and change the angle.
We considered that, because the websites were for a builder, consumers would not expect to see a naked woman either on the home page of ad (b) or at the start of the virtual tour in ads (a) and (b), and the image had the potential to be seen by many people who were likely to find it offensive.
We therefore concluded that the ads were inappropriately targeted and, because of the amount of nudity and the woman’s sexually provocative pose, the image was likely to cause serious offence.
Ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12)
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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HDS Builders not to use similar images in its advertising in future.