A promoted tweet seen on 8 September 2017 featured an image of female presenters in their swimwear from a daytime television show and the text, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. #LooseWomen18”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive because it was derogatory towards women.
ProgressPlay Ltd apologised for any offence the tweet had caused.
ProgressPlay stated that the tweet was published by one of their licensees that operats the brand Fruity King Casino.
ProgressPlay stated that they took all concerns relating to advertising very seriously, including those which might be construed as derogatory towards women. They approached the brand operator in order to understand the reason for publishing the tweet, the logic behind it, its context and any other information which could shed light on the matter. Furthermore, they told the brand operator to immediately remove the tweet and not to use it again in future because of the very nature of the complaint that had been made.
ProgressPlay obtained a response from the brand operator, who believed that the tweet was by no means derogatory towards women. The brand operator stated that the image along with text “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” was not derogatory towards women and that the link to them was meant to refer to the TV show, in which the women in the photo appeared in, as a low quality programme. Therefore, the text referred to the show and not to the women themselves.
The brand operator had also stated that following some negative comments they had received about the tweet, they consequently removed it within a few hours after publishing.
ProgressPlay believed that there was some merit to the logic and reasoning provided by the brand operator and that it by no means intended to offend women in general, but rather to solely refer to the TV show. However, ProgressPlay believed that as the tweet could be seen as derogatory towards women, they emphasised to the brand operator the need to review carefully any advertising materials they published and reiterated the obligation of the brand operator to follow applicable legislation and the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice.
Twitter stated their advertising policies prohibited promoted tweets which were low-quality, offensive or hateful and we confirmed that a tweet of this nature would infringe their advertising policies.
The ASA welcomed the instruction ProgressPlay sent to their brand operator regarding how they must not use the tweet again in their future advertising.
We considered that the image shown in the tweet would be understood by viewers as intending to portray a positive image of women’s bodies. However, we noted that the text “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” was shown above the image. We considered that this was specifically targeted at the women shown in the image and, consequentially, ridiculed what it represented.
Because of that, we considered that the image along with the text “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” was derogatory towards women and therefore concluded was likely to cause widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) 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. (Harm and Offence).
We acknowledged that the ad would not appear again in its current form. We told ProgressPlay Ltd that their future advertising must not be derogatory towards women.