A poster ad for Re:Nourish soup, seen in January 2022, showed a black and white photo of a naked man. He was shown lying on his side facing the camera with his legs slightly apart and his hand resting on his thigh. His chin, mouth and ear were visible at the top of the picture. A large orange bottle of the soup was super-imposed over his genitals. The bottom of the ad, in large print, stated “RE:NOURISH. #NOTHING TO HIDE. VEGAN, FRESH SOUP AND 100% RECEYCLABLE”.
IssueThe complainant, who believed the ad was likely to be seen by children as it was placed in a busy city centre location, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible .
ResponseRenourish Ltd said that the picture and the hashtag #nothingtohide were intended to represent their brand standards. They did not consider the nudity gratuitous nor overly sexualised and considered that it did not degrade the model. They said that the model was wearing underwear in the original image and that his pelvic area had been deliberately obscured by the bottle to minimise offence. They said that the poster had appeared for two weeks in two city locations that had been chosen in order to avoid causing offence based on local sensitivities. They confirmed that they would not run the ad again.
The ASA acknowledged the ad had appeared on posters in city centre locations, which was an untargeted medium and where the image was likely to be seen by children and adults. We understood that the posters had not been placed within 100 metres of any schools.
We noted that the ad was for soup, and considered the image of a naked man bore no relation to the product advertised. While we considered the pose was only mildly suggestive in nature, we noted that most of the man’s head was cropped out of the picture, which invited viewers to focus on his body. We also considered the text “#nothingtohide” was likely to be understood as a pun about nudity, which some might also consider sexually suggestive. Further, we considered that this line, in combination with the placement of the bottle over the man’s naked crotch, would be understood as a clear reference to male genitalia. Taking the image, the “#nothingtohide” strapline and the placement of the bottle into account, we considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the man by using his physical features to draw attention to an unrelated product. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence to some people.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Advertisements must comply with the law and broadcasters must make that a condition of acceptance. (Social responsibility), and 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Renourish Ltd to ensure that future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and that they did not cause serious or widespread offence or harm.