The Radio Times has been forced to tighten up its online ad-serving procedures after an advert promoting a Russian bride dating site – featuring a scantily-clad, pouting model – slipped through its filters.
The ad for RussianBrides.com featured a woman, visible from the chest up, wearing a low-cut bra, looking up at the camera with pouted lips. Text alongside the image stated “Sexy Russian Sensations … flirt now!”
It triggered a number of complaints to Radio Times publisher Immediate Media as well as the Advertising Standards Authority, amid claims that it was “overtly sexual, offensive and irresponsible” because it was inappropriately placed on a website that might be seen by children.
In its defence, Immediate Media said the ad was served directly onto the site by its network trading partner, claiming that while it did not have any direct control over the ads that were served, the firm had comprehensive block lists in place, which included specific categories and advertisers that were not accepted.
However, in this instance, it admitted that despite an automatic block on ads of an adult, provocative or suggestive nature, the ad still ran.
Following the complaints, Immediate Media restricted the advertiser and contacted its trading partner to ensure it would not appear again. It also said it had now placed an additional block on dating ads to ensure another layer of protection was in place.
RussianBrides.com owner Anastasia International completely ignored the ASA’s inquiry.
Despite the lack of response, the regulator banned the ad from appearing again in untargeted media, concluding that it was “irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence”.
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