A poster campaign for a Nottingham air conditioning company, featuring a woman in a T-shirt and denim shorts with the strapline “your wife is hot”, has finally been axed by the ad watchdog months after being blocked from running on the region’s buses.
Decision Marketing first reported on the controversial ad for Not Just Cooling three months ago, after locals got decidedly hot under the collar, with one branding it “like something out of the 1950s”.
The campaign was originally scheduled to run on buses in Nottingham but outdoor specialist Adverta ruled it could cause offence.
At the time, the agency said: “Adverta took the view that the artwork supplied could cause offence and sought the views of our partners, Nottingham City Transport, and together we decided not to allow it, taking the view that it was not appropriate.”
However, poster site owner Space Outdoor saw nothing wrong with the ad and agreed to run it, much to the annoyance of 25 complainants who contacted the Advertising Standards Authority. They believed the ad was sexist and objectified women, and challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible.
In its defence, Not Just Cooling said that the tagline was relevant to the nature of its business and did not believe it was inappropriate, adding that the woman was tastefully dressed.
Space Outdoor also stated that the ad was relevant to Not Just Cooling’s industry and highlighted that the woman’s clothing was chosen to symbolise an individual on a hot day with a summery appearance. Space added that the flame stylised text was also used to reflect temperature rather than the appearance of the woman and did not believe the ad was sexist or that the tagline objectified women.
In its ruling, the ASA acknowledged that the choice of image and tagline was broadly relevant to the advertised product when an individual was too hot, and therefore in need of air conditioning.
It even admitted that the use of the woman and tagline would be understood as a double entendre on the women being both literally hot and also attractive, but ruled that it was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women.
While some consumers might appreciate that the use of the double entendre was comical in tone, the ASA said that it believed it ad had the effect of objectifying women and by commenting on a woman’s physical appearance to draw attention to the ad.
In light of those factors, the ASA concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers and was socially irresponsible.
Banning the poster from appearing again in its current form, the watchdog warned Not Just Cooling to ensure its future advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious or widespread offence by objectifying women.
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