Until recently, there was a billboard in Nottingham at the junction between Porchester Road and Woodborough Road which carried the ad shown above.
The owner of the company, Lee Davies, had seen the same sort of ad used in America – and if you Google it, they use it a lot – and decided to use the idea himself.
In most cases where it is used, they have an image of an attractive female, with the text “Your Wife Is Hot”, and some follow up stuff about getting the air-conditioning sorted out.
Davies ran the idea past his family (including females) and none of them found it offensive. Indeed, when it went up in July, he was getting people asking if he could do a male version, which he seemed prepared to do at some point. He’d paid for two months, and that would be setting him back at least £1,500 (probably more), and he almost certainly wanted to check the return on his investment.
At that time, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had received two complaints about it. Frankly, he could have put up a photo of a kitten and some prat would probably have complained. Also, quite frankly, if he had used a photo of a kitten and someone had complained, the ASA would still almost certainly have somehow concocted a reason to ban it. Which they have done now.
You see, the ASA has recently introduced rules about the use of gender stereotypes in advertising, so you can no longer advertise, say, a family-oriented product using a picture of a typical family (i.e. the kind everyone would recognise). If you even dare to suggest a family consists of a man and a woman with children, you’re pretty much dead meat. You can’t use white models without running the risk of being convicted of being non-inclusive, and if you try to play the game and put some of the allowed minority groups in it, you’ve then got to wrestle with how your depiction matches up with their perception of themselves. And since that roughly equates to “how long is a piece of string”, you’re basically screwed. Then there’s the matter of whether any females depicted are thin, fat, short, tall, pregnant… whichever you go for, the others will complain, so you’re screwed again.
Then there is the issue of being female in itself. There are several parallel universes running together here, because it’s perfectly OK for a woman to dress attractively (or even to the extent that she could be auditioning for an adult film role), but if a man dares to observe the fact… he’s dead meat, again. It’s apparently wrong for a man to ask a woman out anymore – or at least, it could easily turn into such a scenario if the woman decides she is “offended” and reports it. Which could happen anything up to 40 years later, if what I keep reading in the news is true. And if she does report it, the police will drop all their paperwork and cancel all their community meetings immediately, send a SWAT team out, possibly call in the BBC with helicopters and drones and stuff, then put on “extra patrols to reassure the public”. And ruin the rest of the guy’s life.
In a nutshell the world has gone mad, and the ASA are a bunch of morons.
There are thousands of adverts I find offensive one way or another. That bloody TUI ad with the whiny singing girl a couple of Christmases ago, for one. Anything with whistling for another. Anything with rap music of any kind in it. Anything with kids eating – especially when they’re wearing the food instead of getting it in their mouths, so pretty much anything with babies or toddlers. And don’t even get me started on how they try to show things that really shouldn’t be shown outside the baby-changing facilities in McDonalds, or the changing rooms in a clothes shop – especially when I’m having my dinner.
But I don’t complain. I just moan on the blog about them.
There’s nothing wrong with the ad, and the (now) 25 people who have complained should just either be totally ignored, or referred to a psychiatrist for the help they obviously need.