Companies which think they can swerve advertising rules in their Facebook and Instagram posts, have been sent a fresh warning by the ad watchdog after extreme sports company Stomp Racing has been hauled up for potentially exposing children to offensive language.
The post in question featured an image of a man who was about to throw a small bicycle into a river. Large text on the image stated “the fatgirl was shit … so Dave chucked it in the river”. The image was accompanied by the hashtags “#fatgirlminibmx #minibmx #beachcruisercompaniessuckdick”.
However, one complainant, who believed it was likely that children would view the ads, challenged the Advertising Standards Authority to investigate whether the use of the terms “shit” and “… suckdick” were offensive and irresponsible.
Stomp Racing, which trades as Rocker BMX, said the post was intended to mock the product of a competitor and therefore it believed it was not actually an ad in the first place.
It claimed that, as an extreme sports company, its products were not targeted at children, although children did use them under adult supervision. It considered that Facebook and Instagram were not suitable for children and it was up to parents to ensure that their children did not visit websites that were not age-appropriate.
The firm added that if it had intended to target children it would have used platforms on which it knew children were active.
But the ASA was having none of it, and countered that Rocker BMX’s Facebook and Instagram pages included lots of photos and videos of children using its bikes and considered it likely that children would be following it on social media. It argued that youngsters would therefore have seen the ads.
The watchdog’s ruling stated: “We considered that ‘shit’ was a relatively mild swearword, but that ‘suckdick’ was stronger language. Because the ads appeared in an untargeted medium and it was likely they were seen by children, we considered the ads had not been targeted appropriately and in that context were likely to cause serious offence to some.”
Banning the ads from appearing again, the watchdog told Stomp Racing to remove the posts, and to ensure that in future it took more care to appropriately target its ads.
However, it would appear the company has completely ignored the ruling; at the time of writing, the Facebook post was still on the site.
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