Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all were Not upheld.
TV ads and a VOD ads promoted different editions of The Sun newspaper:
a. A TV ad for The Sun stated "This Saturday it's all going on in The Sun". On-screen text stated "Sexy Week" alongside an image of some lips, surrounded by photographs of Myleene Klass posing in a bikini and two other female celebrities, then featured a photo of Cheryl Cole next to a mannequin of herself. The voice-over stated "It's Sexy Week and we have 50 spicy tips for hot sex" and "Plus we begin our countdown of Britain's ten sexiest babes (as voted for by you)." Further images and voice-over previewed some football coverage and then stated "And there's TV Magazine, featuring the amazing Sheridan Smith and Ant and Dec on Simon's dark dreams. Everything that's going on is going in." Finally, a voice-over and on-screen text stated "Wake up the weekend with the Sun. Get involved".
b. A TV ad for The Sun on Sunday stated "This Sunday it's all going on in The Sun". On-screen text stated "SEXCLUSIVE" and featured photographs of four female celebrities. The voice-over stated, "Our Sexy Week climaxes tomorrow with the winner of Britain's sexiest babes", which was followed by an image of the upper body of a female celebrity in nightwear, alongside the on-screen text "SEXCLUSIVE". The voice-over continued, "Plus get our 'Lovers Guide to Hotter Sex'." Further images and voice-over previewed some football coverage and the celebrity gossip magazine "Fabulous". The voice-over stated, "And in Fabulous Magazine, Chloe Madeley reveals how she got a six-pack in just 'phwoar' weeks. Everything that's going on is going in." The front cover was also shown on screen, featuring a photo of Chloe Madeley revealing her midriff. Finally, a voice-over and on-screen text stated "Wake up the weekend with the Sun. Get involved".
c. A TV ad for The Scottish Sun on Sunday featured the same content as ad (b), but made reference to "The Scottish Sun" rather than "The Sun" and referred to football coverage in Scotland.
d. A VOD ad, viewed on the ITV Player during Britain's Got Talent and British Animal Honours 2013, featured the same content as ad (b).
1. Forty-eight viewers challenged whether ads (a), (b) and (c) were inappropriately scheduled, because the sexual themes and references to sex were unsuitable to be shown around family programmes likely to be seen by children;
2. Four viewers challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were offensive because they were sexist and objectified women.
3. Two complainants also challenged whether ad (d) was appropriate to be seen by children.
1. & 3. News Group Newspapers Ltd t/a The Sun (News Group Newspapers) stated that although the voice-over stated that the newspaper contained "50 spicy tips for hot sex", the images that accompanied the voice-over were of women who were featured in the "ten sexiest babes" competition, and were not sexual in nature. They said there were no images depicting sexual activity, and beyond mentioning that the "tips for hot sex" would be published, no further detail was provided as to what those tips entailed. They considered it was appropriate content as they considered that TV broadcast content that was routinely shown during family viewing times frequently contained more sexual themes and references to sex than the ad.
Clearcast stated that, whilst the ads contained some sexual themes and references, other topics were referenced in the ad, including football and the TV magazine. They said the visuals were not sexual and the glamorous, attractive women shown were decently clothed and not posing in a sexually provocative manner. They said the voice-over did refer to sexual subjects and did contain some innuendo, but the sexual content in the ads in their entirety was mild and Clearcast had therefore considered that an 'ex-kids' timing restriction was sufficient, as that ensured that the ads were not transmitted around or during children's programmes or programmes that were of particular interest to children.
2. News Group Newspapers said the women featured in the ads were shown in a variety of dress styles, all of which were appropriate for TV at any time of the day. They stated that, although Mylene Klass was shown wearing a bikini, the pose was neither provocative nor drew particular attention to her chest or bottom. They said all the other women featured in the ad wore evening wear or more casual clothes, and none of them were in provocative poses. They considered that "the ten sexiest babes" competition, which formed the content in the ad, was in line with celebrity culture.
Clearcast reiterated that the visuals of all the women featured were in good taste. They considered they were attractive and glamorous, but not sexually provocative and were decently clothed. They said the voice-over referred to the women as "sexiest babes", but that was in the context of a competition in the newspaper and was not a gratuitous reference, as it identified a particular item in the newspaper. They said "babe" was a term of endearment and also a compliment as it could be interpreted to mean "sexually attractive woman". They stated that in ads (b) and (c) the voice-over's reference to Chloe Madeley getting a six-pack in just 'phwoar' (four) weeks was upbeat and admiring and was not salacious.
3. News Group Newspapers' comments in relation to point 3 are set out under point 1.
ITV stated that the ad had been scheduled around Coronation Street and Britain's Got Talent and Clearcast had advised a level 1 risk rating for the ad, which was equivalent to 'ex-kids' for broadcast ads. They did not consider that either of the two programmes mentioned were commissioned for, or principally directed at, children and said the assessment was based upon the series average broadcast programme indices (for children 4–15) for the respective programmes over the period in question.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that ad (a) featured a woman in a bikini and ads (b) and (c) featured women in nightwear and a cropped top, but did not consider they were overtly sexual images or that the women were featured in sexualised poses. Moreover, we considered that the impact of the images was further reduced due to the brief duration of the images and the fast cutting style of the ad.
We did consider that the content of the voice-over was mildly sexual in content, but noted that it was describing the features of the forthcoming issues of the Sun and, whilst that content might be inappropriate for broadcast at times when children were likely to be watching TV unaccompanied, we acknowledged that Clearcast had applied a restriction which prevented the ads from being broadcast in or around programmes directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We also noted that the ads had been broadcast at around 7:45 pm and 8 pm, and considered that further reduced the likelihood of them being seen by unsupervised children.
Although we acknowledged that the complainants considered the ads had been inappropriately broadcast during family programmes, we considered that the scheduling restriction applied was sufficient and concluded the ads were not inappropriate for broadcast when children might be watching TV in family viewing time.
We investigated ads (a), (b) and (c) under BCAP Code rules 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence), 32.3 (Scheduling of Television and Radio Advertisements - Under-16s), but did not find them in breach.
2. Not upheld
As set out under point 1, we considered that the ads contained some mildly sexual content and noted they featured women dressed, for example, in a bikini, nightwear and a cropped top, but also featured women in other styles of dress, and, in ad (a), also promoted the acting talents of Sheridan Smith. Although we noted that the ads predominantly featured images of women in the context of its 'Britain's ten sexiest babes' feature and acknowledged that some viewers might consider a feature of that kind to be sexist and to objectify women, in light of the content of the ads, we did not consider it inappropriate for the ads to promote its 'Sexiest babes' feature or consider that the portrayal was likely to cause offence.
Because we considered that viewers would be likely to be aware of the kind of articles and images which often featured in the Sun and would view the content of the ad as representative of that publication, and because we considered that content of the ads was not overtly sexually provocative or explicit, we concluded that they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated ads (a), (b) and (c) under BCAP Code rules 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach.
3. Not upheld
We understood that ad (d) had been scheduled so it would not appear around programmes directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. For the reasons detailed under point 1, which related to a TV ad with the same content as ad (d), we considered that the scheduling restriction applied was sufficient and concluded that ad (d) was not inappropriate for broadcast when children might be watching online TV content in family viewing time and was not in breach of the Code.
We investigated ad (d) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.