Ads for Goodwin Smith Shoes seen in August 2017:
a. An email included the claim “Fancy a pair?” and was accompanied by an image of three women wearing just knickers, with one woman’s breasts exposed, the second covering her chest with her arm with her nipple exposed and the third posed in front of the others holding a pair of shoes over her chest. Above the image was the company tag line “Bucking good shoes”.
b. The company’s own website www.goodwinsmith.co.uk, included the claim “Fancy a pair?” and was accompanied by an image of two women who were topless, wearing only knickers and covering their breasts with shoes.
c. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text “Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now” accompanied by an image of three woman wearing just knickers, two women covered their breasts with shoes and the third covered her breasts with her arm.
d. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text “Watch the full [no under 18] version on Youtube now” and featured the ‘not suitable for under 18s’ emoji. Underneath was a still image of a video that featured a woman wearing black underwear on her knees in front of a fully clothed man who was holding a plastic machine which released paper money notes in quick succession at her face.
e. An email titled “WE DID WARN YOU”, which included the ‘not suitable for under 18s’ emoji, showed an image of three women and three men. One of the women was topless and wore a saxophone around her neck. A second woman wore just a pair of knickers, high heels and a foam finger. She was pressed against a man and was slightly bent over showing her bare buttocks. The three men were fully clothed. Above the image was the company tag line “Bucking good shoes”.
f. A Youtube video appearing on Goodwin Smith’s channel, titled “FANCY A PAIR? (EXPLICIT VERSION) AW17”. Before the video played, text appeared which stated “Sign in to confirm your age. This video may be inappropriate for some users”. The video contained three women and three men. For the duration of the video, the men remained fully clothed. In some scenes, the three women wore black lingerie and in others they were topless, wearing nude thongs and high heels. Throughout the ad the women were dancing and interacting with the men. One shot featured a topless woman with the phrase “FANCY A PAIR?” written on the screen. Other scenes included: a woman on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot ‘paper money notes’ into the woman’s face; a topless woman serving a man a drink; and men shaking up a bottle of liquid, then spraying it across the room.
Nine complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive because they were sexist, objectifying women, and degrading to women.
Redfoot Shoes Ltd t/a Goodwin Smith said that the campaign had attempted to portray a fantasy concept in which the men were portrayed as being confident; this was not meant to degrade women. They also said that their typical consumer was men aged between 22 and 45 years, with an interest in sport and other luxury brands associated with clothing and lifestyle. The ads had been formulated specifically for potential consumers within their target demographic, therefore they felt the platforms used to promote the campaign would only been seen by consumers who had actively chosen to receive or view the content. They provided evidence of the impact of their social media posts and stated that some of their most popular posts featured photographs of women in provocative poses. Based on this history, they believed they provided a marketing campaign that would be well received by their customers. They also informed us that there were two versions of the video and the version featuring the women topless came with a warning of the explicit content.
The ASA considered that a number of scenes in ad (f), such as the opening shot of a topless blonde woman with the phrase “FANCY A PAIR?” shown on screen and the shot with a woman in her underwear on all fours with the product on her back, were sexually suggestive and that for most of the video the women danced in a seductive manner.
We considered that in the ads the men were portrayed in a manner viewers were likely to interpret to mean that they were successful, suave and aspirational. For example, during ad (f) they were smartly dressed and well groomed, were consistently seen to be confidently interacting with the women, and had their names appearing on-screen with aspirational character descriptions, such as “the ladies man”[sic], “the baller” and “the rebel”. In contrast, we considered the women to have been portrayed in a subservient position – for example, throughout the video the men remained fully clothed, whereas the women wore either only a nude coloured thong or a lingerie set. Scenes included one shot in which a woman was seen serving a man alcohol whilst just wearing a thong and in another in which a woman was on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot banknotes into her face. We considered the general content of ad (f), and those scenes in ad (f) in particular, to be both sexually suggestive and degrading to women, and therefore likely to cause serious offence.
Goodwin Smith acknowledged that the ad was explicit and stated they had highlighted this feature of the campaign in ads (c)–(e) using phrases such as “We did warn you” accompanied by the not suitable for under 18s emoji and “Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now”. We considered ads (a)–(e) were similar in style to ad (f) – for example, the ads included images such as two women in their underwear covering their breasts with the shoes. We considered that topless and lingerie-clad women were irrelevant to the shoes being advertised and that the general tone of the ads was also both sexually suggestive and degrading to women. We did not think that the warnings provided were sufficient to counter the likely offence caused by the scenes in the ad.
Because the ads were sexist, degrading to women, and objectifying women, we considered that they were likely to cause serious and widespread offence, including to Goodwin Smith’s potential customer base. We concluded they were therefore in breach of the Code.
The ad 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 ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Goodwin Smith to ensure that in the future their ads were socially responsible and that they did not objectify women.