The home page of www.spartanmotorfactors.co.uk, a motor vehicle parts supplier, featured a close-up picture of a woman's bottom clothed in fishnet tights and underwear shorts with the company's logo printed on them. Text stated "Small enough to offer the personal touch. SHORT & ROUND".
An internet user challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it objectified women.
Spartan Motor Factors believed their advertising was no different from that of other car part suppliers in Wales. They explained that "SHORT & ROUND" referred to an event they had sponsored at the time the ad appeared and "Small enough to offer the personal touch" was their company strapline. They were the smallest car part supplier in the area and not part of a larger company. They said the ad had been removed from their website.
The ASA considered that, although the close up image of a scantily clad woman's bottom was not sexually explicit it nonetheless had sexual connotations, which was heightened by the text that stated "Small enough to offer the personal touch" and "SHORT & ROUND". The image bore no relevance to the advertised service and we considered it was therefore likely to be seen as sexist and to demean and objectify women by using their physical features for no other reason than to draw attention to the ad. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers.
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.