ASA slams ‘crass’ Pot Noodle ad

Pot-Noodle-hotoff-2013082809442275Unilever has had its knuckles rapped by the ad watchdog after one element of an online tongue-in-cheek campaign for Pot Noodle was deemed crass and degrading and likely to cause serious offence.
The campaign, devised by Mother, promoted Piri Piri Pot Noodles under the strapline “peel the top off a hottie” and comprised three separate elements.
The first was an online video of a man dreaming he was watching a girl pole-dancing on a bus, only to wake up and realise it was actually a shabbily-dressed man. This was supported by an online game featuring a cartoon image of the woman and the scruffy man. Finally an ad on the brand’s Facebook page showed a female model in a bikini next to a picture of a Pot Noodle with the text “Phwarr is it me or is it getting hot in here? Hot off. Which one gets you hotter?”.
But members of the public were none too impressed, and the push triggered 18 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, who challenged whether the ads were offensive, sexist and degrading to women.
In response Unilever said the ad followed its typical tongue-in-cheek style for Pot Noodle advertising and said the gist of the ads was the comparison between a spicy product and an attractive person, in this case female, both capable of being called “hottie”.
The ASA agreed that the video and the game were unlikely to cause serious offence but the Facebook ad was a different matter. Although it noted the intention of the ad was a tongue-in-cheek play on the word “hottie”, it considered the image of the woman in a sexual pose and the blatant comparison with the food product was crass and degrading and therefore likely to cause serious offence.
The watchdog told Unilever the ad should not appear again in its current form and to avoid using offensive images in future ads.

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