Archive for the ‘Advertising Standards Agency’ Category

Scary business for new feature film…

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Paranormal Activity 3 Ads Banned - Marketing Communications

Paranormal Activity 3 Ads Banned

The new feature film Paranormal Activity 3, rated ‘R’ for some violence, language, brief sexuality and drug use, has been banned from broadcast before 9pm by the ASA after receiving complaints that parents and the children watching were caused distress.  According to Marketing Week the campaign included a series of three TV ads for the third installment of this blockbuster; each 10-second ad featured quick changing scenes shot in the style of video and surveillance camera footage from the film.  Given the explicit scenes of violence and abuse you would have thought that Clearcast would have been reluctant to clear the program for the 7.30pm showing as opposed to 9pm, apparently not! Who are Clearcast anyway…?


In compliance with the BCAP TV Advertising Standards Code, and according to the company’s website, Clearcast are owned by the UK’s largest TV Broadcasters and it is their mission to ‘…make it easier to get ads on air…’ I think the mission says it all really!  This poses the question as to whether companies like Clearcast should be held accountable.

Hilariously Paramount Pictures said that the short duration of the spots “alleviated” the potential for harm or offence because they did not maintain a level of sustained threat and tension to leave a lasting impression on the average consumer. – So basically as long as the feature clip is short then viewers cannot be affected in a negative way.

Thank you to the Advertising Standards Authority, who said although the ads were brief, the general tone was of fear and the way the spots were shot.  It makes you wonder what would happen if governing bodies such as the ASA did not exist…?


H&M’s CGI Models Aren’t Going Down Well…

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
H&M Use CGI Models Online

H&M Use CGI Models Online

The Marketing Communications blog has looked at brands enhancing photos of models before, with the most recent story revolving around Julia Roberts and her representation of Lancome. With the Advertising Standards Agency  becoming so involved in the area of air-brushing ads it’s hard to believe that a brand would go one step further and create entirely fake models!

That’s right, High Street store H&M have been reported to digitally create a woman’s body before adding a model’s face, adapting skin colour and then of course, adding clothes, for their online store! This is quite incredible to all of us who would never look at H&M’s online store and think that the models portrayed wearing the retailers clothing are entirely virtual.

When looking carefully at the models  in the picture above one can see that the bodies are eerily similar and with a bit of hair changing and face swapping these models look almost real. But is this approach to advertising really a good choice in the current advertising climate?

The ASA have been on the hunt for airbrushers, will CGI models be next? Afterall, with H&M’s main customer being women and girls, do they really want to send out the message that the only way to have a perfect body is to create it with a computer? Will the ASA once again push companies, like H&M, to be fully aware of their social responsibilities and their affect on their audience through advertising?

It seems that a rather disgruntled public hopes so. This brings us back to the book chapter on advertising, where the authors explore an interesting investigation involving false advertising against (see page 486 for full case study.) Will H&M stand by their somewhat fake models? Only time will tell…

Sexy lingerie Advert ban from M&S…!

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

M & S Lingerie Advert Banned by ASA

M & S Lingerie Advert Banned by ASA

Marketing Week reported a recent advert promoting the M&S lingerie line had been banned following complaints that the advert, featuring a woman wearing lingerie and stockings kneeling on a bed in a somewhat provocative position, was ‘overtly sexual’ and was likely to be seen by children.  Is this taking David Cameron’s initiative to hammer down on sexual imagery being used in adverts where it may be deemed inappropriate, and let’s face it all too common?

Interestingly the ASA only received 15 complaints.  This was probably not a high percentage of the overall viewers. This is a positive sign in that the government are taking a stricter, and more rigorous approach to deterring brands from featuring material that could be deemed inappropriate for viewers, in this case children!  It is apparent that the public, and in turn the government, are becoming more cautious about what children are exposed to, knowing that as media grows, and information is made more accessible, the more likely it is that children will be exposed to inappropriate material at some point.

It is therefore the responsibility of brands to ensure that they act responsibly when promoting new products and consider the implications of their actions, not only where children are concerned. There is a high volume of adverts that are being withdrawn from TV and publically ridiculed through the news but will this deter the likes of M&S and Lynx who suffered an ad ban two weeks ago?  There are many instances where brands are being pulled up, the ASA recently banned a perfume advert featuring teenage actress Dakota Fanning, saying it could be seen to sexualize a child.  Will this recent splurge of bans make retailers more cautious in their advertising? Hopefully!

We would like to hear your thoughts…

Explicit gaming ad banned…

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Duke Nukem Advert Banned by ASA

Duke Nukem Advert Banned by ASA

Duke Nukem, the popular computer game for many enthusiasts, recently launched an ad containing explicit images that had to be swiftly withdrawn. The ASA received a total of 34 complaints claiming that the advert was offensive and irresponsible for portraying sexist, violent and overly explicit images likely to “cause children and vulnerable people harm”. Is there protection for the special populations listed here or is this a question of concern relating solely to the advert? The game itself encompasses all that is listed in the advert with regards to women and the drugs scene.

The content is described on one of the gaming websites as,



“You are given access to an arsenal of over-the-top weapons, nonstop action, and numerous levels of interactivity. Shoot hoops, lift weights, read adult magazines, draw crude messages on whiteboards, or ogle the many women that occupy Duke’s life; that is, if you can pull yourself away from destroying alien invaders”

Click here to view the full article.
The game itself is listed as one that parents ‘should be aware of‘, however is this enough protection for children? How accessible are these games? Marketers need to be more aware of what channels they focus on and consider their target audience more thoroughly.  There are many industries that are not exposed to main stream media.  This is an example of an advert that clearly demonstrates the objectives of the product in a way that is not appropriate for viewers of a certain age.  Although this is pitched as a war game, gaming websites such as the one featured in the last paragraph almost treat the aspect of war as secondary to the adult magazine and crude messages content giving the game equal weighting to all these features.  Maybe the government need to look into the ways in which these products are marketed and sold as a whole rather than focus on one advert…What do you think?

The ASA forced to hire more staff as complaints rise…

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

ASA and L'Oreal Complaints - Marketing CommunicationsThe ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) are taking a more pragmatic, preventative approach to governing advertising in sectors such as the cosmetics industry.  This is a result of the increase in complaints with regards to misleading campaigns.  The amazing picture of Julia Roberts says it all really; the Hollywood star is renowned for her style and beauty…So why does Lancôme feel the need to make her look 21?

According to Marketing Week, adverts in L’Oreal’s campaigns use enhanced images of models such as Christy Turlington and have had to be withdrawn.  This industry is producing more airbrushed advertisements to launch their new products when actually they should be focusing on health issues and making men and women alike feel good about themselves, no matter what their age.  Well done to the ASA for pushing this initiative to make companies fully aware of the social responsibilities they have and how they should ensure these are fulfilled in their marketing.

The ASA are obviously addressing this issue for many reasons, and one that we suspect is at the top of the list is to reduce the rapid increase in complaints that are coming through.  The ASA have recently stressed the importance of controlling these complaints and believe this to be a result of the increase in companies investing more in online advertising.

This takes us back to the book chapter on advertising, whereby the authors explore an interesting investigation involving false advertising against (see page 486 for full case study).   Perhaps this really will prevent companies, particularly in the beauty industry, from causing uproar and encourage more CRM…yeah, one day maybe!

The ASA say goodbye to alcohol drink, Cell…!

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Everybody loves to hear about brands being caught out for not demonstrating corporate social responsibility. Alcohol brand Cell Drink certainly helped TV show Watchdog’s ratings this month!  Marketing Week reported the brand as being ‘slammed’ after breaking multiple advertising rules in a recent Youtube campaign.

The ad featured a free runner holding a non-spill version of the vodka based drink and included clips of a ‘raver’ and a ‘rocker’ spilling their drinks to reinforce the brands proposition! The advert was clearly pushing the relationship between drinking and dangerous behaviour (with the free runner!).  How did the brand come up with such an irresponsible campaign,

 The ASA say goodbye to alcohol drink, Cell...!

The ASA say goodbye to alcohol drink, Cell...!

featuring under 25’s in the ad and therefore targeting this age group…? Needless to say the ad is no longer available!

The ASA Adjudication on Cell Drinks, issued 3rd August, included an extensive report listing all allegations made against them with a particularly amusing complaint that implied the product could enhance physical capabilities.  Is Youtube now being used as a way for brands to promote new products without the advertising being approved by the authorities?

Corporate Social Responsibility should surely be second nature to all marketers working in industry.  Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach contains an interesting case study featuring Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on page 271, I would suggest the Cell Drink CEO should take a look at it !!


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Lewis Hamilton - Reebok Brand Ambassador

Lewis Hamilton - Reebok Brand Ambassador

Yet another of Reebok’s marketing campaigns has been banned for unsubstantiated claims regarding their new product the Reezig ZigTech trainer. The claim is that the Celliant fibres the trainers contain increase the level of oxygen in the body by 7%.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against the TV advert stating that the evidence was not accurate and therefore the claims were void. Adding to this, Reebok have a strapping a-list celebrity ambassador, Lewis Hamilton, but is Lewis really an athlete?

Reebok need to do their research and consider the messages that they are conveying to consumers more.  This is the 2nd promotion ban for Reebok in six months…In December 2010 the ASA ruled against a TV campaign for its EasyTone Curve trainers.  This does not bode well for the brand’s position in a market that is innovative and highly competitive.  Have similar claims been made against other sports brands…?

The short answer is ‘dope’…, according to a recent report from the Daily Telegraph, Nike are not experiencing claims for misleading marketing information regarding their products, however they are currently been criticized for promoting drug use on their t-shirts…! Will consumers view the information in the same way? The image says it all really.

Nike's Irresponsible Ad Campaign

Nike's Irresponsible Ad Campaign

Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach demonstrates the pressure of being creative in advertising in order to achieve attention, processing and conviction.  The interesting Persil case study, however, reflects that being original is not always the best policy and can in fact cause miscommunication (Chapter 12, page 323, Dirt is Good, Or is it?).  Nike and Reebok are miscommunicating messages, in holding back information they are threatening their brand perception…It may be time to tone it down…!