Summary of Council decision:
One issue investigated and Upheld.
A Facebook ad for the lease of a Fiat Spider by LINGsCars, a car leasing company, seen on 23 February 2018, featured text which stated "These Fiat Spiders must be registered by the end of March on current reg [sic] plate, but are you that anal about number plates? Who needs a V8 Kia Stinker or a BMW bum boy car, when you have the best small convertible ever?".
The complainant challenged whether the reference to “a BMW bum boy car” was offensive.
LINGsCARs.com Ltd (Ling's Cars) stated that they aimed to target their ad at people above the age of 24 and to those who had an interest in cars. They did not believe the term "BMW Bum Boy" was offensive and thought it was a well-known term for someone who owned a modified BMW vehicle and drove aggressively. They suggested changing the wording to the term "BMW Batty Boy".
The ASA considered that “bum boy” was widely understood as a derogatory term directed at homosexual men and that the use of that term to describe a vehicle would therefore be regarded as homophobic by many people. Whilst we acknowledged Ling's Cars comments on their target audience, we considered that a person’s age and their interest in cars had no relevance as to whether or not they would be offended by homophobic language. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.
We acknowledged Ling's Cars suggested change of wording to "BMW Batty Boy", but considered that was not significantly different to the original term and was equally offensive for the same reason.
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. We told LINGsCARS.com Ltd to ensure their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society, and that it did not cause serious or widespread offence.