‘Funny’ Valentine’s ad gets tongue-lashing from ASA

iphone-5537230_1280A fitness company’s bright idea to post a “humorous” Valentine’s Day ad, which featured a man seemingly about to perform oral sex on a woman to promote a “romantic offer”, has been battered by the ad watchdog for causing widespread offence.

The Facebook post for Team RH Fitness featured an image of the top half of a man facing the camera wearing a shirt and jacket. The man held a pair of bare legs over his shoulders as though holding a person upside down, with their feet pointed towards the ceiling with text that stated “WINE, DINE, £6.99”.

The number six and the first number nine were highlighted. The image was accompanied by a caption that stated, “Wine, dine, and £6.99 [three laughing emojis]”.

But this attempt at “light-hearted fun” did not go down quite so well with some, triggering five complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority that the ad was offensive, because it objectified women.

In response to the ASA investigation, Team RH Fitness said it was “disappointed” to hear members of the public were offended by the post and explained that it was not the intention to cause offence.

The firm said that the post advertised the Team RH Fitness app, and all users entered into an agreement with Team RH Fitness confirming they were at least 18 years old before access to download the app was provided. The company said it had not received any complaints about the post either directly or via Facebook.

Team RH Fitness said the ad was posted on Valentine’s Day with the purpose of being humorous and to demonstrate what consumers could spend their money on when considering romantically related purchases to celebrate the day.

The firm said it limited the visual display of sexual activity and used implied sexual activity, imagery, and wording. Furthermore, it believed that the ad was compliant with Facebook’s Community Standards, explaining that its Facebook audience is largely made up of women aged between 25 and 54 years old living in the UK and there were numerous comments left on the post from people who found the ad funny.

Team RH Fitness said it had no intention of re-using the content in the ad, adding that it takes its role in publishing content seriously and always endeavours to comply with media guidelines and the CAP Code. It apologised to the complainants for any offence caused.

Facebook acknowledged the complaints but made no further comment.

Naturally, this was all too little, too late for the ASA, which, while acknowledging that only users of 18 years and over were able to me members, the image was likely to be recognised as portraying a sex act between a man and a woman, and the sexual nature of the image was compounded by the highlighted “69”.

The watchdog also considered positioning of the woman – with her bare legs over the man’s shoulders and neither her torso nor face on show – to be objectifying, since her inclusion in the ad served only as a faceless object used for sexual purposes.

Because it included an objectified woman in a sexual position, the ASA concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and banned it.

The watchdog also warned Team RH Fitness to ensure it avoided causing serious or widespread offence in future marketing.

Related stories
Gorillas booze, sex and drugs jokes spark ASA red mist
99 problems: Foul-mouthed Sickotoy ad scratched out
Forget f**k you motherfu, only one expletive is allowed
Only fudging joking: ASA rejects ‘expletive’ complaints
Covid my arse! Brits get down and dirty to combat virus

Print Friendly