A paid-for Facebook post for JMac, a retailer of construction machinery, seen on 4 October 2021. The post featured an image of a man sitting inside an excavator, flexing his arm towards the camera. Three women, wearing yellow hardhats and bikinis, posed outside the excavator, sitting and leaning on the machinery.
IssueFour complainants, who believed the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible.
JMac Ltd said that their ad was intended to show a ‘tough’ man, using a tough machine for a tough job. They said that the women in the ad were depicted as finding the ‘tough’ man attractive, as a proud celebration of masculinity.
JMac said that they believed excavator drivers were exclusively men, and therefore the ad had met their sense of responsibility to their customer base. They also said that they did not think four complaints indicated that the ad had caused widespread or serious offence, and that their customers’ feedback regarding the ad had been positive.
The ASA considered that the women in the ad were posed in a way which emphasised their bodies and the revealing swimwear. We considered the use of women in bikinis bore no relevance to the product advertised, and presented them as sexual objects. We considered the juxtaposition of the women in bikinis against the man, who was fully clothed, further emphasised that impression.
One model had her back turned to the camera, with one leg raised up as she looked over her shoulder, accentuating her buttocks. We therefore considered the women were depicted in a sexually suggestive manner.
Overall, we considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and included a gender stereotype in a way that was likely to cause harm. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.1 and 4.9 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current format. We told JMac Ltd to ensure that future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and that they did not cause serious or widespread offence or harm by objectifying women.