A Confused.com ad which attracted a wave of complaints after claims it depicted a couple “dogging” has been cleared by the ad watchdog, even though it conceded that many viewers would find the commercial “distasteful”.
Devised by Publicis, the spot first aired in July and shows the company’s mascot “Brian the Robot” interrupting a man parked in a car in a remote spot. As he knocks on the window, a woman’s head pops up – and the couple turn to the camera looking flustered (see below).
The Advertising Standards Authority received the first complaints within hours of the broadcast, reaching a total of 137. The majority of complainants objected that the ad was offensive, because they believed there was implied reference to oral sex, while some objected that the ad was unsuitable for children to see. A small number objected that the ad was offensive, because it was degrading to women.
In response to the ASA inquiry, Inspop.com – the company behind Confused.com – said the couple in the car were simply stunned by the appearance of the robot, with the delay in the woman seeing the robot allowed for a comedic shock reaction. It pointed out that neither the man nor woman showed any indication of sexual activity, and was scheduled to appear after the 9pm watershed.
Despite conceding that many viewers might find the ad distasteful, as it implied the robot had interrupted sexual activity, the watchdog dismissed all the complaints.
Concluding the ad contained no explicit reference to sex and no explicit sexual imagery, the ASA ruled Confused.com was free to continue running the campaign.
Confused.com defends ‘dogging’ ad