20 Sexy, Violent And Offensive Ads Banned In The UK


Photo: ryanair

Britain’s easy to offend Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently deemed Ryanair’s flight-attendants-in-their-underwear campaign too offensive for public consumption.

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The ASA pulled the plug on the newspaper ad, which featured Ryanair staffers posing under the headline “RED HOT FARES & CREW,” after receiving 17 complaints that it was offensive and objectified women.

While the ads seemed mild to us (even the feminist blog Jezebel noted, “meh, I’ve seen worse“), it’s hardly a surprise that the ban-happy ASA axed the campaign.

The ASA is a self-regulatory watchdog that oversees advertising in the Britain. While it looks into 10 to 15 questionable ads a week, it takes only one public complaint for the ASA to ax an ad…  and it has taken full advantage of that power.

The ban-happy ASA has pulled the trigger on everything from ads spouting misinformation to ads featuring excessive cleavage to over-Photoshopped advertorials.

While some praise it for being an equal opportunity censor (it has dropped the hammer on Israeli tourism ads that pretend Palestinian territories don’t exist and Palestinian tourism ads that pretend Israel doesn’t exist), others complain there’s neither rhyme nor reason to its rationale. An ad featuring an underweight model for the Drop Dead fashion website was banned, but an ad for H&M featuring a similarly emaciated model avoided censure.

The oversized bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume between 17-year-old Dakota Fanning's legs weren't to the ASA's liking. The ad was banned in November 2011 for sexualizing a child.

Weeks later, the ASA pulled Hailee Steinfeld's Miu Miu ads from circulation for depicting a child in an unsafe position.

Then the ASA banned an ad for Palestinian tourism in December for showing the entire country of Israel as a part of Palestine.

Julia Roberts Lancome ad was also banned for excessive Photoshopping.

As was Twiggy's for Olay.

Apparently Yves Saint Laurent hadn't learned their lesson from this banned ad which received 730 complaints in 2000.

Beyonce's ad for Heat perfume was banned last May for being too sexy. The ASA deemed that the scintillating ad was unsuitable for 7:30 pm TV.

This television commercial for Tesco Sausage, featuring pigs roaming in a field, was banned in September 2011 for being misleading—pigs for Tesco are bred both indoors and outdoors. Tesco responded that the ban was ridiculous considering that the farm featured was Tesco supplier.

This Killer Heels ad by the Newspaper Marketing Agency, a group set up by major national newspapers including the Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, etc.—was banned after the ASA received 81 complaints in 2004. The ad was deemed to be offensive, sexist, and condoning violence.

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