An ad in Amateur Photographer magazine for a specialist multimedia insurer, in July 2011, was headlined "Confused and don't know where to look?". Underneath was a picture of a woman wearing only men's boxer briefs and holding a D-SLR camera to each breast.
The complainant, who believed the ad was sexist and degrading to women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
Versatile Insurance Professionals Ltd (Versatile) said Aaduki were well known in the photographic market for the ‘Aaduki Boys’, a group of male models used to advertise the brand at exhibitions and conventions and who also featured heavily in their marketing campaigns. They said they had run a series of ads across the specialist photographic press featuring the male models in their trademark blue shorts, which were designed to amuse the reader with ‘tongue in cheek’ innuendo much like the Carry On films from the 1970s. Versatile provided copies of the ads in the series, which they believed were suggestive and naughty without being obscene.
Versatile said the idea behind the “Confused and don’t know where to look ad?” was that they now had a girl wearing the blue shorts instead of a boy, and aimed to engage the male photographer that did not normally find their ads attractive. Versatile said they did not believe the ad was sexist or degrading to women, and pointed out that many photographic magazines featured female models, some of whom would be completely naked and a large number of whom would be topless. They said they believed the ad was no more suggestive than models in the tabloid press. Versatile argued that the ad needed to be viewed in the context of the other ads in the campaign, and that rather than being sexist or degrading to women the ad actually addressed the inequalities of their previous advertising that had focused on the male models. Versatile said the magazine in which the ad appeared had a wide circulation and they had received no other complaints about the ad.
IPC Media Ltd said they had received a number of ads from Versatile, and had agreed to run two of them that they felt were most in keeping with the typical content of the specialist photographic press. IPC Media Ltd said they had received one complaint directly about the ad, and had now made changes to their workflow procedures to ensure that no similar ads appear in future. IPC Media Ltd said, where they were in doubt, they would contact the CAP Copy Advice team for guidance.
The ASA considered that the image of the woman wearing only boxer briefs and holding a D-SLR camera to each breast was provocative. We noted that the ad was for multimedia insurance, and that the image bore no relation to the advertised service. We considered that the image was likely to be seen to degrade women by linking their physical attributes to that of the cameras, and concluded that the ad had the potential to cause serious offence to some people.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Versatile to take greater care to ensure their ads would not cause offence in future.