The ASA grappled with two potentially sexist ads this week.
Spoiler alert: One was a TV and VOD ad for Paco Rabanne XS, which received 120 complaints, though none of these were upheld. The other was a poster for Tunnock's Tea Cakes, one person complained, and the complaint was upheld.
Paco Rabanne ad
The ad for Paco Rabanne XS showed a shirtless man and several women who were watching him from behind a two way mirror while swooning dramatically. The women clamber over one another for a better view, and collectively pass out when the man opens his zipper, pulls down his trousers and spritzes his... um... 'bits'. You can watch the ad here. The ad triggered 120 complaints. Some viewers considered that the ad was sexist as it objectified the man; some considered it was sexist in the way it depicted the women; and some complained that the ad had appeared during an episode of Gogglesprogs!
The ASA investigated and decided NOT to uphold any of the complaints.
If you're interested in the full details, you can read the ASA's ruling here.
Tunnock's Tea Cakes ad
The other ad was a static poster promoting Tunnock's Tea Cakes. The poster was placed near a venue which was to host a charity tennis match. The poster featured a female tennis player, lifting her skirt and showing quite a bit of flesh, while holding a tea cake at her hip in place of a tennis ball. The slogans were 'Where do you keep yours?' and 'Serve up a treat'. You can see the poster here.
One person complained about this ad. The ASA investigated and upheld the complaint on the basis that, despite the fact "the ad was placed opposite an arena hosting a tennis match, [the ASA] considered it nevertheless bore no relevance to the advertised product."
They went on to say that they "considered the phrase “serve up a treat” would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the “treat”, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. [The ASA] considered that although the image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase “serve up a treat” it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman’s physical features to draw attention to the ad."
You can read the ASA's ruling here.
Commenting on the [Paco Rabanne] ad’s close emphasis on the physique of the male character, the watchdog ruled: “We considered the ad showed the male character’s attractiveness in a light-hearted, humorous way, rather than in a degrading or humiliating manner. We therefore considered viewers were likely to recognise the ad was a comical dramatisation of a surreal situation.” The ruling went on to conclude that the treatment of female characters was similarly in line with the spot’s exaggerated and comic aims. Paco Rabanne, stated that its brand often “presented an exaggerated, highly stylized and fantastical world through all of its campaigns,” and that “its audience had become accustomed to its ongoing humour and challenges between the sexes, empowering both men and women equally.”