Three ads in The Sun promoted a competition which invited readers to submit an image of their cleavage for the chance to win £1,000 and a photoshoot:
a. The first ad appeared on a double-page spread with a number of images of celebrities in underwear or clothing that accentuated their breasts. Text at the top of the page stated "JOIN IN THE SUN CLEAVAGE WEEK & YOU COULD WIN £1,000" and a headline in the middle stated "BUST IN BRITAIN?". Each celebrity image featured their name, age and bra size. Under the heading "HOW TO ENTER" text stated "Reckon you've got a cleavage that will put these fab figures in the shade? Then enter our great competition and you could land yourself £1,000 and a shoot with a Sun photographer. Just take a snap of yourself in an outfit that best shows off your bust. Then visit the website address below for details of how to submit your picture".
b. The second ad appeared on a page headed "GUESS THE CELEBRITY PAIRS" which featured a number of images of celebrities' cleavages, cropped to exclude their faces, and captions underneath giving a clue as to their identity. Under the heading "HOW TO ENTER" text stated "IS your cleavage up there with the bust of them? If so, enter our photo competition to win £1,000 and a shoot with a Sun photographer. Just take a snap of yourself in an outfit that best shows off your assets and upload it at the address shown below".
c. The third ad appeared on a page headed "WELL, THEY SAID PAGE 3 WAS HISTORY..." which included images of paintings of historic women, such as Anne of Cleves, which emphasised their cleavages. Under the heading "HOW TO ENTER" text stated "SEND your photo to www.thesun.co.uk/cleavage for a chance to win £1,000 and a photoshoot with a Sun photographer".
The campaign group Object, who believed that the competition promoted the objectification of women, challenged whether the ads were offensive.
News UK & Ireland Ltd t/a The Sun said the campaign was an editorial piece inspired by the contemporaneous annual cleavage day held in South Africa and was not within the remit of the ASA. They said the competition part of the campaign was purely an editorial incentive and was not promotional. It was designed for increased reader engagement with the editorial content and the winner was featured within a subsequent editorial piece.
The Sun did not believe the ads caused any serious or widespread offence or objectified women. They pointed out that the campaign had only generated one complaint, from Object, and they believed that was indicative that it had been suitable for the readership of The Sun and had not caused offence. They explained the competition had been designed by a woman for women only and was intended to be light-hearted fun. They said it had been popular, generating over 200 entries, and had been received positively on social media. The following week, they ran a similar campaign for men called 'six-pack week'.
The ASA considered that the images and accompanying text in the ads were intrinsically linked to the terms of the competition, which was a sales promotion, and therefore were within our remit.
We noted the ads promoted a competition in which readers were invited to send photos of their cleavages to win a cash prize and a photoshoot, and that the images used were ones in which women's breasts were accentuated and cleavages visible. We also noted that some of the comments that accompanied the images were intended to be humorous and tongue-in-cheek. For example, the image of Kim Kardashian featured a comment stating "Best known for her behind, but kleavage is kinda klassy too" and the image of Jennifer Lopez featured a comment stating "Lo-cut frock shows this star's assets to perfection".
We noted that the ads did not feature nudity and were not overtly sexual, and we considered the tone was light-hearted. We also noted that the ads were targeted exclusively to readers of The Sun newspaper and considered that they were in keeping with editorial material and images that regularly featured in the publication. Therefore, while we acknowledged that some consumers might find the concept of a competition inviting women to submit pictures of their cleavages distasteful or offensive, we considered that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to the audience targeted. We therefore concluded that the ads did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ads under CAP Code (edition 12) rules
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) and 8.7 8.7 No promotion or promotional item should cause serious or widespread offence to consumers. (Protection of Consumers, Safety and Suitability) but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.