A magazine ad for Tembe DIY Products Ltd, which sold masking tape, seen on 16 April 2016, featured a model painting a wall while dressed in a short dress, stockings, suspenders and white high-heels.
One complainant objected that the ad was offensive because it was sexist and objectified women.
Tembe DIY Products Ltd stated that the intention of the ad was to show how the product could be used to create classic painting effects. They stated that the image of the model was used because they felt it brought an eye-catching 1940/50s feel to the ad.
Tembe DIY Products stated that before they received the complaint they had already taken the decision to withdraw the ad from further publication and would not be using it again in their future advertising.
The Professional Painter & Decorator magazine stated that they had received no direct complaints about the ad and believed that it was promoting a decorating product in a light-hearted manner.
The ASA noted that Tembe DIY Products wanted to portray the model in the ad as a 1940/50s style pin-up girl to attract the reader’s attention. However, we noted that the ad was marketing masking tape which bore no relevance to the image of the model, whom we considered was depicted in a sexualised way. We noted that she was wearing white high-heels and dressed in a short frilly dress that showed all of her stockings with the attached suspenders and that her bottom was slightly arched outwards while she had a happy look on her face.
We considered that, by using a sexualised image of a woman that bore no relationship to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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 Tembe DIY Products Ltd that their future advertising must not cause offence by objectifying women.