A direct mailing for a trade bathroom firm, featuring innuendos and images of female models more akin to The Benny Hill Show, has been banned by the ad watchdog for being degrading and offensive to women.
The mailing for Cliftons Tiles & Bathrooms was designed in the style of a tabloid newspaper and peppered with provocatively dressed models and double-entendres.
One page promoting sealants featured a woman dressed in tight denim hot pants under the headline “Get A Grip of the Stick”. Meanwhile, another promoting taps showed a woman wearing a low-cut, cropped top revealing her midrift and thong under the heading “Top Taps. They’re Fanbrasstic”.
The campaign triggered one complainant to challenge whether the mailing was offensive because she believed it was overtly sexual, demeaning to women and inappropriate.
In response, Clifton Tiles & Bathrooms said 99% of its customer base was male and, when deciding what was appropriate to use in a marketing communication, it claimed to follow the type of content used in popular national newspapers, toning down the imagery and text to reduce the chance of causing offence. It considered the images and text appropriate for its targeted customer base.
But the Advertising Standards Authority disagreed. It considered the images had no relevance to the advertised services and products, and were likely to be seen as demeaning to women, as it used the physical features of the women to draw attention to the mailshot.
It also noted that the women’s clothing was minimal and sexually suggestive and that their poses made them appear provocative and vacant. The use of innuendos throughout the text, coupled with the images, contributed to the overall impression that the ad was objectifying women and was likely to cause serious offence, the ASA concluded.
It banned the mailing from appearing again in its current form.
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