A press ad in Dirt Mountainbike, a specialist mountain and dirt biking magazine, featured a man crouching next to a mountain bike, making a 'devil horns' sign with his left hand. Text in the bottom right corner of the ad read: "YT-INDUSTRIES.COM FUCKING GOOD BIKES!"
The complainant challenged whether the use of the slogan "FUCKING GOOD BIKES!" was offensive and inappropriate, particularly in a publication likely to be read by children.
YT Industries said they developed and produced high-end mountain bikes for the extreme sport market. They said their customer target group was 16- to 30-year-olds and they targeted young people with a tolerant, open mind, who were focused on fun sports. They said the man featured in the ad was team rider Andreu Lacondeguy, who was one of the top mountain bikers in the world and was a hero for many mountain bikers. They said he was well known for performing the biggest tricks on his bike, as well as partying and listening to heavy metal. They said the slogan "fucking good bikes" was intended to convey that they offered outstanding bikes and the slogan was used because they considered it would fit with and appeal to the target group. They said it was not their intention to provoke or insult any readers or to negatively affect children.
Factory Media said the slogan "fucking good bikes" would be unlikely to cause any particular offence to readers of Dirt Mountainbike. They took the decision that the ad would not offend their readership as that style of language was commonly used within the community they serviced as a magazine. They said they reached more than 250,000 riders every month through multimedia platforms, which included a readership of over 70,000 through the magazine. They said the readership was 90% male, from 15 to 44 years, with a core age of 20 to 30 years and the average age of their readers was around 28 years old.
The ASA acknowledged that the magazine was targeted at young adult males, but noted the readership also included older teenagers. Because the ad was placed in a specialist mountain and dirt biking magazine, which was an activity which would appeal to children as well as adults, we considered that the ad was likely to be seen by some children. We therefore concluded that the use of the phrase "FUCKING GOOD BIKES!" in that context was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers.
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 the advertisers not to use language which was likely to offend in future ads.