An ad for Playboy TV, in paid-for space on the side, back and cab of a lorry consisted of various images of women.
a. The image on the side of the lorry stated "RE-TUNE YOUR FREEVIEW BOX TO GET US!" and pictured the top halves of four women with their cleavages showing. One was dressed as a policewoman, another as a Playboy bunny, one held her finger between her clenched teeth, and the fourth smiled at the viewer.
b. The image on the back of the lorry stated "RE-TUNE YOUR FREEVIEW BOX TO GET US!" next to a picture of woman dressed in stockings, high heel shoes and latex bodice, leaning backwards against a chair with her head back and eyes closed, and one leg raised and bent backwards.
c. The image on the side of the cab showed the back of a woman, her face turned towards the camera, and touching her exposed bottom cheek.
d. On the front of the cab, a woman was shown apparently kneeling, with her bottom pushed up, and head resting on her leaning arm.
The complainant challenged whether the images were overtly sexual and therefore unsuitable for display on a lorry.
Playboy TV (Playboy) said they had considerable experience in complying with television content regulations and understood what were regarded as generally accepted standards. They said the image (a) on the side of the lorry was completely non-nude, with no revealing underwear or clothing on display and was not overtly sexual or provocative. They also believed that although the model pictured on the back of the lorry (b), fully clothed and with no cleavage or bare skin showing, was leaning back in a relaxed pose it was not sexually provocative. Playboy said the women on the front cab (c & d) were heavily obscured by both the large superimposed text and the lorry's fixtures and fittings.
Playboy believed that the images were cheeky rather than sexual and there was no descriptive text which brought undue attention to the nature of the service. They argued that the images fell within generally accepted standards and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, which they felt was supported by the fact that only one complaint had been received despite local and national press attention and the ads having been displayed on the lorry for some time. They believed the images were comparable to similar print adverts in both visual appearance and overall tone and were not overtly sexual and less so than ads featuring women in lingerie or other states of undress on billboards or at bus-stops.
The ASA acknowledged that although the images on the lorry were comparable to similar ads found in some newspapers and magazines, we nonetheless disagreed with Playboy's assertion that they were not sexually provocative.
We noted the woman wearing a police uniform in image (a) showed a significant amount of cleavage, which was pushed up to accentuate her breasts and made more noticeable by the police neckerchief draped between them. The woman next to her, dressed in a bunny girl costume, was leaning backwards, which also drew attention to her cleavage. One woman was provocatively holding her finger between her clenched teeth. All four women were looking directly at the viewer and, by their facial expressions and poses, implied sexual availability, which was compounded by the text underneath the image which stated "RE-TUNE YOUR FREEVIEW BOX TO GET US!".
The woman in image (b) on the back of the lorry was holding a sexual pose, leaning backwards against a chair, her breasts pushed out, one leg raised and bent backwards, her eyes closed and wearing clothing often associated with sexually charged encounters. Although image (c) was partly obscured by both text and the lorry's fixtures, the woman could still clearly be seen touching her exposed bottom cheek, her head thrown back and suggestively pouting.
Image (d), while less obviously provocative than the other images, nonetheless showed the woman apparently kneeling, with her bottom pushed up. We considered that the poses held by all the women, seductively looking directly at the viewer, were sexually provocative.
The ads were in an untargeted, mobile medium and therefore had the potential to be seen by a large number of people who were likely to find the images of scantily clad women in overtly sexual and provocative poses, offensive. We considered that, because the pictures were overtly sexual and could be seen by anyone including children they were likely to cause serious and widespread offence and were irresponsible. We concluded that the ads were unsuitable for outdoor display and therefore breached the Code.
The ads 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 ads must not appear again in outdoor advertising. We told Playboy TV UK to ensure that their advertising was suitably targeted and to exercise caution when preparing ads for display in outdoor space.