Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A digital billboard ad for Itch Petcare flea treatments, seen in July 2019, featured an image of a dog. Text stated "Treat your bitch with itch. Monthly flea treatment, delivered free".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was:
1. likely to cause serious or widespread offence; and2. inappropriate for outdoor display in an untargeted medium.
1. & 2. Itch Petcare Ltd said that the poster contained a large image of a female dog alongside the copy. Therefore they believed it was clear how people would interpret “bitch” in this context. They believed the usage of the word was appropriate given that they were a pet well-being brand and it rhymed with their brand name. Global (the media space owner) said that they had not received any direct complaints about the ad. It ran on two screens in London in July. They felt it was fine to run as it was clear it was referring to a female dog.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ad featured a large image of a dog and stated “monthly flea treatment”. The ad was on a large billboard near a busy road and was therefore prominent and viewable by a general audience, including children. However, the ASA considered those who saw the ad would understand that the term “bitch” was being used in this instance to refer to a female dog, rather than any derogatory use of the word. While we acknowledged that some people would find the word inherently distasteful, we noted that it was clearly intended in this case to refer to a dog. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, and was acceptable for display in an untargeted outdoor medium.
The ad was investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence), but was not found breach.
No further action required.