Summry of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad description

A paid-for display ad for Redbubble seen on 22 January 2023 on the Guardian website featured two images of women side by side. The first showed the torso of a woman wearing a t-shirt with text that stated “BEAT ME BITE ME WHIP ME FUCK ME LIKE THE DIRTY PIG THAT I AM CUM ALL OVER MY TITS AND TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME THEN GET THE FUCK OUT”. The second image was of a woman from the waist up looking suggestively at the camera.


The complainant, who believed that the ad condoned and/or trivialised sexual and domestic violence against women, challenged whether the ad was:

1. harmful, offensive, and irresponsible; and

2. irresponsibly targeted.


1. & 2. Redbubble Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.

Guardian News & Media Ltd t/a The Guardian, which operated the Guardian website on which the ad was seen, said that they were a responsible publisher and took their obligations under the advertising regulations seriously. They considered the ad to be offensive and inappropriate.

The ad was served on the Guardian’s website programmatically via the automated digital advertising marketplace. They received one complaint on 22 January 2023 and disabled the ad from the article on which it appeared.

The Guardian said that they required businesses that placed ads on their platform to agree to their standard advertising terms, which included compliance with the CAP Code and a requirement that the ad was not obscene. It was the responsibility of advertisers to ensure that their ads complied with the rules. The Guardian explained that their processes to prevent offensive ads from appearing on their website had been circumvented because Redbubble Ltd, the advertiser, had categorised the ad under a permissible category.

As a result of this incident, The Guardian took steps to block Redbubble Ltd from advertising on their platforms in future.


The ASA was concerned by Redbubble Ltd’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

1. & 2. Upheld

The ad included the torso of a woman who wore a t-shirt with the text “BEAT ME BITE ME WHIP ME FUCK ME LIKE THE DIRTY PIG THAT I AM CUM ALL OVER MY TITS AND TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME THEN GET THE FUCK OUT”.

We acknowledged that the text was an excerpt from a song. However, we considered that readers were likely to take it at face value and we therefore assessed it on that basis.

We considered the phrase “FUCK ME LIKE THE DIRTY PIG THAT I AM” and allusions to violent sexual acts in “BEAT ME”, “BITE ME” and “WHIP ME” dehumanised and presented women as stereotypical sexual objects to be used by men for sexual gratification. The fact that the person wearing the t-shirt appeared to be a woman and that the second image in the ad was of a woman wearing a tight t-shirt and looking suggestively at the camera, further added to that objectification.

Furthermore, the Code required that marketers to avoid causing serious or widespread offence, and to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted. Consumer research by the ASA and others showed that the use of words such as “fuck” and “cum” were so likely to offend that they should not be used at all in marketing communications even if they were relevant to the product, unless very carefully targeted to an audience that was unlikely to be offended by them. We further considered that the words “tits” and “dirty pig” were strong swear words that were also likely to cause serious offence to a general audience. The Guardian website was likely to appeal to a broad audience and was therefore an untargeted medium. Redbubble provided no information on how they targeted their advertising, or if they used interest-based criteria when doing so.

We concluded that the ad included a harmful gender stereotype, was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and had not been responsibly targeted.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.1, and 4.9 (Harm and offence).


The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Redbubble Ltd to ensure that their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence by objectifying women or including profanities, and to ensure their ads were targeted responsibly. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance Team.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

1.3     1.7     4.1     4.9    

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