A regional press ad for The Sofa King, published on 4 August 2011, stated "The Sofa King - Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!"
Three readers challenged whether the phrase "Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!" was offensive and unsuitable for general display.
The Sofa King said they had used the slogan "Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!" as their company strap line since they began trading nine years previously and that it was used on their premises and on their vehicles as well as in their advertising. They said complaints made to Northamptonshire Police in 2004 were not taken further by the Crown Prosecution Service and that no complaints had been made direct to them. They said the slogan simply used their company name to refer to pricing and that the words had not been changed or run together or punctuation used in a way that was intended to cause offence. They did not believe the slogan caused serious or widespread offence.
The Northampton Herald & Post said they had received two complaints about the slogan. They noted that the slogan also appeared on the advertiser's shop front and on their vehicles, and so could be seen by the public at any time. They said they had run the ad for some time with no complaints until now.
THIS ADJUDICATION REPLACES THAT PUBLISHED ON 29 FEBRUARY 2012. THE WORDING HAS BEEN CHANGED BUT THE DECISION TO UPHOLD REMAINS.
The ASA noted that the phrase "... Sofa King Low" used the advertiser's company name but considered that, when spoken and heard, it sounded like a derivative of the swear word "fuck". Because of that, we concluded that the slogan was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that the ad breached the CAP Code.
The ad 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 ad must not appear again in its current form.