Schoolgirl dating ad gets ASA slap

Mate1 adAn ad which ran on Facebook for a dating website – featuring a provocative image of a model dressed as a schoolgirl – has been smacked down by the ad watchdog for potentially encouraging grooming of young children.
The ad for datematures.com – headed “Older Men Wanted” – showed a young woman wearing what appeared to be a school uniform with the visible part of her shirt unbuttoned and her tie hanging loosely around her neck. The text read: “Browse local singles who are looking to date older men only at Date Matures.”
It sparked only a single complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which investigated whether the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible, for portraying the model as a school-aged child.
The advertiser, Mate1.com, did not even respond to the regulator, sparking a rebuke about its responsibility to do so. However, Facebook said the ad was in violation of its guidelines and had been disabled, as had any other ads using the same image. They had also issued a warning to the advertiser.
The ASA said the model would be understood by readers as being of school age due to her youthful appearance and the impression that she was wearing a school uniform.
And given that it appeared on a social networking site, the watchdog blasted it “irresponsible” because it could be interpreted as encouraging the so-called “grooming” of young children.
Banning the ad, the ASA said: “Although the ad appeared to be targeting ‘older men’, we considered the implication that young children could also join the dating service, in order to meet older men, was a breach of the code rules…and was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.”
This is the third time a dating website has fallen foul of the ad rules in as many months; a “suggestive” banner ad for MatureDatingUK.com was banned in March, while Comeplay.com ran into trouble for delivering a “gratuitous” untargeted door-drop.

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