A Leeds-based Porsche dealership, which claims to “stake its reputation” on a selection of “truly hand-picked” motors, has been sent to the breakers yard by the ad watchdog over a “demeaning and sexist” ad designed to appeal, much like the car marque itself, to the archetypal mid-life crisis male.
The ad for Strasse (UK) ran in the 911 and Porsche World Magazine in February. It featured an image of the lower half of a woman’s body wearing a black fitted mini-dress and brightly coloured high heels positioned underneath a car, surrounded by car tools and a handbag. Text positioned across the image stated “Attractive Servicing”.
One reader, who believed the ad was degrading and sexist towards women, rifled off a complaint to the Advertising Association to challenge whether it was offensive and irresponsible.
In typical style, Strasse (UK) could see nothing remotely offensive about the ad. It pointed out that the model was fully clothed in leggings and a tunic and was actually “empowered” by the addition of power tools. The “attractive servicing” referred to in the ad was in relation to their attractive prices versus those of their competitors, it reckoned.
Strasse also insisted that the ad contained nothing that was likely to cause widespread offence on the grounds of sex. It confirmed it had not received a single complaint about the ad.
The publisher CH Publications stated that the ad showed a fully clothed model working beneath a Porsche, who was presumed to be a female, however, it reckoned that even that was not entirely clear. There was no nakedness and the model’s pose depicted the typical position of anyone working beneath their car. The ad was designed to be a clever play on the attractive rates offered by Strasse.
The ASA, however, was having none of it. The regulator noted the model’s head was obscured and the text appeared across her crotch and legs. Her waist and lower half appeared from beneath the car, with her legs placed apart. Because of the positioning of her bent leg, her skirt was pulled up to reveal her upper thigh and crotch, albeit in opaque black tights. The ASA considered that because the model’s face was not shown, the lower half of her body became the main focus of the ad.
In its ruling the regulator added: “We considered the phrase ‘attractive servicing’ would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the ‘attractive’ part of the servicing, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the [strapline] it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman’s physical features to draw attention to the ad.”
“We concluded the ad was not sexually explicit, but by using a suggestive image that bore no relevance to the advertised product, the ad objectified women and was likely to cause serious offence to some people.”
Banning the ad from appearing ever again, the ASA warned Strasse (UK) Ltd to ensure its advertising was socially responsible and did not cause serious offence by objectifying women.
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