ASA responds: step back or step forward?

It was a lot of fun watching my blog statistics after I posted about Lynx’s new ad – many of you clicked on the link for taking action with the Advertising Standards Authority; thank you. Many of you also got in touch with me about how outraged you were when you saw the ad. The ASA acknowledge this in their response letter below…unfortunately, it seems it’s their opinion against ours and they thought it was “unlikely” (2012 buzz word, guys?) that the ad would cause too much offense. Usually a big fan of the ASA and their great work (especially recently),  I’m thoroughly disappointed in their response this time. I simply cannot understand how they fail to see the ad as demeaning to both men and women and offensive to Bible-believers. Maybe it’s just me…

Oh wait, it’s not.

Anyway: take a look at ASA’s response letter.

Dear Ms Wilson

UNILEVER UK LTD  

Thank you for contacting the Advertising Standards Authority.

I am sorry to hear that a recent TV ad by the above advertiser promoting the new Lynx “final edition” deodorant has caused you concern.  We can intervene if an advertisement seems likely to be in breach of The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising by, among other things, provoking serious or widespread offence, causing significant harm or misleading consumers to their detriment.  The ASA bases its judgments on the content of the ad and the medium, audience, product type and prevailing standards in society.

We have received numerous complaints from complainants who raised the same issue that you have about this ad.  The matter was sent to the ASA Council for consideration.  Council acknowledged that the ad may not appeal to all viewers however, it was considered that the ad was intended to be light hearted and unlikely to be seen as mocking the Christian faith or belittling the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.  Council noted that Clearcast (the organisation which approves ads prior to their broadcast) had applied a scheduling restriction to the ad so that it would not be transmitted in the breaks surrounding religious programmes  It was considered that the restriction was appropriate considering the ad’s theme and that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence as a result, in relation to this point.

In addition, it was noted by Council that the advertiser was continuing with the over the top theme of the product’s desirability to women in order to promote the product.  Although it was understood that some viewers might find the content of the ad distasteful in this respect, the ad was unlikely to be seen as degrading or objectifying women.

As a result, we do not believe that it is likely that this ad would cause serious or widespread offence among religious communities or that it would encourage or condone human trafficking, and we shall be taking no further action on your complaint at this time.

I am sorry if this was not the response you were expecting, however, thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.  Our website, www.asa.org.uk, contains information about us and the work we do, including the results of our investigations into other recent complaints.

Yours sincerely

Avghi Theocharous

Complaints Executive

“Is this it?”. No, certainly not. If you haven’t yet complained to ASA about the ad, I would encourage you to do so; to ad strength to the voices already heard – they may cause ASA to reconsider; they will definitely remind them that these are issues that many of us are concerned about.

Rather than be discouraged about responses like these, let’s turn them into a step forward in our march towards justice. Let us allow them to educate us about where our world is at.  ASA is not where they need to be. The objectification of women is normal. The objectification of men is coming into fashion. Or regarding the other issue with the video, the Bible is not sacred. This is what we are up ‘against’. Once we know these things well, let us also allow these responses to fuel our endeavours to challenge this kind of thinking. One conversation, one registered complaint…it’s slow. And difficult. But it’s worth it. Naïveté? Delusional idealism? No, the relentless pursuit of what is right.

Thanks for using your voice…please continue to use it. It is powerful.

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