Advertising Standards Bureau Review of Operations 2014 - Page 43

Innuendo and sexual references In 2014 the Board considered sexualised innuendo and suggestive wording in advertisements with terms such as assets, burgasm, shag and wet dreams. The Board considers the audience who may be exposed to the advertisement and is more conservative with advertisements where children may hear or view such language. A lingerie campaign referring to women’s breasts as assets (Target - 0108/14) was cleared by the Board of inappropriate language claims. The Board view was that the theme of the advertisement was not of a sexual nature and that the presentation and discussion about bras was factual and helpful and that the word “assets” in relation to a woman’s breasts was not, in this context, language which most members of the community would find to be strong, obscene or inappropriate. A poster advertisement that highlighting the chance to win a trip to Dubai used the words wet dreams (General Pants Group - 0390/14). Although noting the sexual connotation of the phrase the Board’s view was that the reference was closely linked to the competition to win an overseas trip and in the context of a promotion it considered that the advertisement did not use language that was strong or obscene. The term burgasm (Yum Restaurants International - 0351/14) used in reference to the pleasure experienced by a person when eating a burger was also viewed as appropriate in the circumstances and not a term which would be considered strong or obscene by most members of the community. The Board acknowledged that ‘orgasm’ has a sexual meaning but noted the placement of the advertisement on the advertiser’s Facebook page in determining it did not breach Section 2.5. A television advertisement p romoting a rug sale (Rugs a Million – 0006/14) used a man dressed as Austin Powers saying the phrase “I got a shag.” Each time the phrase is used a shag rug is featured. The Board view was that while the advertisement is clearly using sexual innuendo to promote the products on sale the innuendo was relatively mild and it was clear that the actors Review of Operations 2014 were talking about rugs and not a sexual act. The Board was also of the view that young children would be unlikely to understand the cultural reference of Austin Powers or the alternative meaning to the word and considered that the use of the word in the context of a rug sale was not sexualised or inappropriate. The Board noted that a man’s comments at the start of a radio advertisement describing waking each morning with an ‘urge’ before explaining he means for the baked goods were open to interpretation and considered that some members of the community would find his comments to be of a sexual nature. The Board noted however that the man quickly explains he is referring to the food and considered that the level of innuendo was mild and would be unlikely to be understood by children. In the Board’s view there is a difference between an advertisement using the word ‘sex’ to promote a sexual performance enhancement product and an advertisement promoting a movie with the word ‘sex’ in its title (Sony Pictures Releasing Pty Ltd – 0313/14). In this case the advertised product is a movie called ‘Sex Tape’. Although the size and red colouring of the wording did make the words more visible, in the Board’s view the placement of images of the two main actors in front of the wording lessened the impact of the words and as such they were not inappropriate for use on an advertisement which can be seen by children. Acceptable terms A variety of terms raised concerns during 2014. The terms are often those used in the Australian vernacular and most often are viewed by the Board as acceptable. A lingerie campaign attracted several complaints for using the word “boobs” in transport (Pacific Brands Holdings Pty Ltd – 0385/14). Concerns surrounded the use of the word “boobs” in public areas where children may be exposed to the language. As with advertisements used previously in this campaign the Board determined that the word “boobs” was not strong, obscene or inappropriate and that the term is common slang, used in a manner that is consistent with modern Australian vernacular, and a word that many women use in relation to their own breasts. The addition of a descriptor and symbols within the word itself did not alter the overall tone of the word and in line with its decision in the previous case (0368/13) the Board felt the advertisement was not strongly sexualised and was likely to be seen as being in the context of a brand which sells bras. One of the most complained about advertisements in 2014 was for sanitary pads ( Johnson & Johnson Pacific Pty Ltd – 0069/14). Concerns about terms used such as “bled” and a scene with a girl questioning putting a tampon “up there” were viewed by the Board as correct in the context of the advertised product. The Board noted that some members of the community would prefer for the whole subject to not be advertised but in its view the language used was not inappropriate in the circumstances and was not strong or obscene. The terms “smoko” (Lion – 0252/14) and “bugger off ” (eatnow.com.au – 0207/14) were seen as being acceptable Australian vernacular. In the case of the term “smoko” the Board took into account the origins of the word “smoko” as being from a period where the break time at work was used to smoke a cigarette, that many trades people still commonly use the term, but that today, while it is used to indicate a break from work, it is no longer only used to mean a designated time to have a cigarette. The Board view was that most members of the community would consider that the term is acceptable. The Board has consistently determined that use of the term “bugger off ”, in a context that is not aggressive, threatening or demeaning, is not language that is strong or obscene. In the case of the online food ordering service the Board view was consistent with previous determinations in that the term was used colloquially to relate to the readers’ lack of interest in cooking and to show that ordering takeaway was an easier option. The word “tosser” featured in two advertisements (Southern Waste – 0042/14 and Environment Protection Agency – 0152/14) to describe people littering. Some concerns were raised about other possible definitions of the term, but the Board considered in each of these cases the term was used in the context of someone who has tossed 41