A car leasing firm, run by a woman who famously told Duncan Bannatyne to “stuff” his proposed £25,000 Dragon’s Den investment, has come a cropper over a Facebook ad which urged customers to lease a Fiat Spider by proclaiming “who needs a BMW bum boy car?”.
On its Facebook page, Gateshead-based Ling’s Cars claims to “put *YOU* first, but treat you like an adult. I don’t tell you bullsh1t. For the best new cars, the best deals, the best adverts, the best opinions, stick around… and join in”. Its strapline is: “Car leasing for adults not idiots.”
But one customer was left decidedly unimpressed by the Facebook ad – which read: “These Fiat Spiders must be registered by the end of March on current reg plate, but are you that anal about number plates? Who needs a V8 Kia Stinker or a BMW bum boy car, when you have the best small convertible ever?” – and complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the term “bum boy” was offensive.
In response to the ASA inquiry, Ling’s Cars stated that it aimed to target its ad at people above the age of 24 and to those who had an interest in cars.
It rejected claims that the term “BMW bum boy” was offensive and thought it was a well-known term for someone who owned a modified BMW vehicle and drove aggressively. It suggested changing the wording to the term “BMW batty boy”.
However, the ASA was having none of it. It considered that “bum boy” was widely understood as a derogatory term directed at gay men and that the use of that term to describe a vehicle would therefore be regarded as homophobic by many people.
While it acknowledged Ling’s Cars comments on its target audience, it considered that a person’s age and their interest in cars had no relevance as to whether or not they would be offended by homophobic language.
It also acknowledged Ling’s Cars suggested change of wording to “BMW batty boy”, but considered that was not significantly different to the original term and was equally offensive for the same reason.
Ruling that the ad was likely to cause serious offence, the ASA banned it from appearing again and warned Ling’s Cars to ensure its future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society.
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