An ad for Strasse Garage, seen in the 911 and Porsche World Magazine on 28 February 2019 featured an image of the lower half of a woman’s body wearing a black fitted mini-dress and brightly coloured high heels positioned underneath a car, surrounded by car tools and a handbag. Text positioned across the image stated “ATTRACTIVE SERVICING”.
The complainant who believed the ad was degrading and sexist towards women, challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible.
Strasse (UK) Ltd said that the model in the ad was fully clothed in leggings and a tunic and was empowered by the addition of power tools. The ‘attractive servicing’ referred to in the ad was in relation to their attractive prices versus those of their competitors.
They did not consider that the ad contained anything that was likely to cause widespread offence on the grounds of sex. They confirmed that they had not received any complaints about the ad.
The publisher CH Publications Ltd, stated that the ad showed a fully clothed model working beneath a Porsche, who was presumed to be a female, however, it was not entirely clear. There was no nakedness and the model’s pose depicted the typical position of anyone working beneath their car. The ad was designed to be a clever play on the attractive rates offered by Strasse.
The ASA noted the model’s head was obscured and the text “ATTRACTIVE SERVICING” appeared across her crotch and legs. The model’s waist and lower half appeared from beneath the car, with her legs placed apart. Because of the positioning of her bent leg, her skirt was pulled up to reveal her upper thigh and crotch, albeit in opaque black tights. We considered that because the model’s face was not shown, the lower half of her body became the main focus of the ad.
We considered the phrase “attractive servicing” would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the “attractive” part of the servicing, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase “attractive servicing” it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman’s physical features to draw attention to the ad.
We concluded the ad was not sexually explicit, but by using a suggestive image that bore no relevance to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence to some people.
The ads 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 in its current form. We told Strasse (UK) Ltd to ensure their advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious offence by objectifying women.