An ad for Revo Turf, an artificial grass supplier and installer, seen in the landscape gardening trade magazine Pro Landscaper on 4 April 2017, featured an image of a woman’s legs from the knee down. Her legs were bare and she was wearing high heels, and standing on artificial grass. Large text stated “The best way to get laid …”, followed by a description of the advertiser’s products in smaller text. The description concluded “The Turf Group is the only place to get a good lay”.
The complainant challenged whether the references to ‘getting laid’ in combination with the image were offensive.
Pile Height Ltd t/a Turf Group said the ad referenced the word “laid” because they sold artificial grass, which was laid in the same way a carpet or natural grass products were laid.
Eljays44 Ltd, the publisher of Pro Landscaper, said the term ‘getting laid’ was prominent in both the natural and artificial grass market and was widespread within the landscaping sector. They acknowledged, however, that the term could have caused offence to some of their readers when placed alongside the image. They had been contacted by three readers about the ad. They said that in hindsight running the ad had been an error.
The ASA understood that ‘laying’ turf was a commonly used term in the landscaping sector. We also acknowledged that the image of the woman’s legs was not sexually explicit. However, we considered that when the image was combined with the headline “The best way to get laid” and the further text “The Turf Group is the only place to get a good lay”, the references would be understood as a double entendre linking the landscaping terminology of ‘laying’ turf with the slang terminology of ‘getting laid’. We considered that connection had the effect of demeaning and objectifying women by presenting them as sexual objects in order to draw attention to the ad. We therefore concluded the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers.
The ad breached 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Pile Height Ltd t/a Turf Group to ensure that future ads did not portray women in a manner that objectified them and which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.