A website, for a company selling electrical products, featured three ads marketing different monitors:
a. Showed a female model lying on her back, legs intertwined, looking upwards towards the camera. She was wearing revealing lingerie with a tight open cut jacket, exposing her underwear and cleavage area.
b. Showed a female model lying on her side looking into the camera. She was leaning her head onto her left arm, whilst her right arm rested on her body. She was wearing a see-through negligee, where her knickers were visible and her upper body partially exposed.
c. Showed a female model in a bikini sitting on the beach. She had her back to the camera, but with her head to the side and was looking into the camera
The complainant, who considered the images were sexist and demeaning to women, challenged whether they were offensive.
Overclockers UK stated that as part of their marketing tactic for selling monitors or VDUs (visual display units), they used images of professional female models. They explained that such images proved to be effective by their sales revenue. They believed that "sex sells", and that the images used in the ads attracted customers to the products, which ultimately led to a sale. They said that such a marketing tactic was adopted by thousands of companies and such sexual imagery was shown in billboards, TV ads and magazines.
Overclockers further commented that the images they used contained no nudity or anything explicit.
The ASA acknowledged that all three ads were marketing LED flat screens, each featuring a female model in revealing clothes. We noted that, in ad (a), the model was lying on her back, legs intertwined, looking upwards towards the camera. Whilst the imagery was not overtly sexual, we noted however, that the model was wearing revealing lingerie with a tight open cut jacket, clearly exposing her knickers and cleavage area.
In ad (b), we noted that the model was lying on her side looking directly into the camera. She was leaning her head onto her left arm, whilst her right arm rested on her body. Although she was not exposing as much nudity in comparison to the model in ad (a), she was, however, wearing a see-through negligee, where her knickers were visible and her upper body partially exposed.
In ad (c), we noted that the model was located on a seaside resort wearing a bikini, with her back and legs partially exposed.
We acknowledged that some people might view the images as being gratuitous, sexist and demeaning. However, we considered that the images were not overtly sexual and unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) Code rule
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. but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary