A Facebook and Instagram post from Rocker BMX, posted on 9 May 2017:
a. The Facebook post featured an image of a man who was about to throw a small bicycle into a river. Large text on the image stated “the fatgirl was shit … so Dave chucked it in the river”. The image was accompanied by text which stated “#fatgirlminibmx #minibmx #beachcruisercompaniessuckdick”.
b. The Instagram post featured the same image and accompanying text.
The complainant, who believed it was likely that children would view the ads, challenged whether the use of the terms “shit” and “… suckdick” was offensive and irresponsible.
Stomp Racing Ltd t/a Rocker BMX (Rocker BMX) said the post was intended to mock the product of a competitor and therefore they believed it was not an ad.
They said they were an extreme sports company and their products were not targeted at children, although children did use them under adult supervision. They considered that Facebook and Instagram were not suitable for children and it was up to parents to ensure that their children did not visit websites that were not age-appropriate. They said that if they had intended to target children they would use platforms on which they knew children were active.
Rocker BMX said they had not received any complaints directly from their Facebook or Instagram followers, and believed that if those platforms had concerns about the posts they would have been removed.
The ASA considered Rocker BMX’s products would appeal to children, and noted that their Facebook and Instagram pages included photos and videos of children using their bikes. We considered it likely that children would be following them on social media and would therefore have seen the ads. We noted that Rocker BMX had not provided evidence to the contrary.
We considered that "shit" was a relatively mild swearword, but that "suckdick" was stronger language. Because the ads appeared in an untargeted medium and it was likely they were seen by children, we considered the ads had not been targeted appropriately and in that context were likely to cause serious offence to some. We therefore concluded the ads breached the Code.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Responsible advertising) 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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Stomp Racing Ltd t/a Rocker BMX to remove the posts, and to ensure that in future they took care to appropriately target their ads and not to use language which was likely to cause offence.