'Bawdy' Sony PSP ads escape ban for being offensive
LONDON - Sony's ads for the launch of its PSP hand-held console have escaped a ban by the ad watchdog after racking up almost 50 complaints, despite accusations that the ads were offensive, sexist and encouraged anti-social behaviour.
The ads, created by TBWA\London, featured a number of executions of red headlines on a white background with lines such as "Your girlfriend's white bits here". In all, 45 people complained about the campaign to launch the hand-held Sony PSP.
That line was deemed offensive to women by some complainants, while others criticised another execution, "Strong language and scenes of a sexual nature here", as unsuitable for children and encouraging anti-social behaviour. There were also a number of other single complaints.
TBWA responded to the complaints in depth and defended the campaign as being irreverent and humorous, in keeping with the brand and target audience, but not offensive. The ads referred to the various features of the PSP such as the ability to watch films, take pictures and send emails.
The Advertising Standards Authority sided with the agency, although it disagreed with TBWA's argument that "Your girlfriend's white bits" referred to the audience's girlfriends complaining that their holiday snaps showed them in a bikini before they got a tan, thereby displaying their "white bits".
It described that particular ad as "bawdy", but did not think it demeaned women nor encouraged their objectification.
It rejected the complaints about the line "Strong language and scenes of a sexual nature here", considering that it did not contain any explicit language or images likely to offend adults or children, nor was it likely to encourage anti-social behaviour.
The watchdog acknowledged some complainants' concerns that the posters were sited close to schools and churches. TBWA said that because of the scale of the campaign it was not possible to ensure that all executions of a sensitive nature were not placed by schools or places of worship and, moreover, the address of the poster site did not disclose whether such places were nearby.
The ASA also rejected three minor complaints: that "Your girlfriend's white bits here" encouraged PSP owners to take indecent photos of other children; another complaint said that an ad reading "Take a running jump here" which was sited near busy roads suggested people jump near traffic; and another ad reading "Saucy emails won't get you fired here" was offensive.
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