UK
26/09/2012 08:12 BST

Rustlers Forced To Remove Innuendo-Laden Ads After Consumer Complaints

Two adverts for microwaveable food producer Rustlers have been banned after consumers complained they were too rude.

The Advertising Standards Agency was asked to investigate a series of adverts in the Rustlers' 'Fit As A Butcher's Daughter' campaign.

The promotion featured four ads which appeared on a range of different platforms including Video On Demand (VOD) services during an iPad game app, the MailOnline website, YouTube, a local news website as well as on www.rustlersonline.com.

Consumers complained the adverts were not suitable for children and claimed they were offensive because they were sexist to women and presented them as sex objects.

Kepak Convenience Foods, which owns the Rustlers brand, robustly defended the campaign, saying it was a cheeky and light-hearted campaign with direct appeal to their target audience of 16 to 24-year-old men.

It also argued that in each of the adverts, the woman was a very strong character and represented a woman in control rather than a woman who was being exploited.

The ASA describes the adverts in its judgment, saying in one the woman is wearing a short butcher's apron, stockings, suspenders and high heels in a butcher's shop while in another, she's seen in black knickers with the butcher's apron, stockings and suspenders.

And the adverts featured on Rustlers' website featured innuendo-heavy scripts and videos of women suggestively stroking sausages and salamis.

They also allowed viewers to play different sections of the video in different orders - allowing them to manipulate the phrasing with rude results.

One advert had the woman declare: "Oh yes, you know how the script goes, don't you boys? Your starving mates keep coming over, so here's some ideas for mouth watering, tasty treats to give them... Rustlers burgers on my lovely baps, or Rustlers wraps are sure to go down a storm and tackle their hunger... It's flame-grilled and coated in my creamy mayo salsa or barbeque sauce, guaranteed to satisfy your drooling mouth. They're quick and easy to cook and if you offer a touch of liquid refreshment too, the shout from your mates will be 'I want some more'."

After considering the adverts, the ASA declared that while some viewers might find the ads distasteful, in part because there was only a tentative link between the product and the use of a woman wearing revealing clothing and using innuendo, for most of the adverts it did not consider that the women were presented as "merely sex objects".

However, the innuendo in the Rustlers' website adverts was too strong "because it was emphasised by some of the woman's actions, it was sexually provocative, and it was the focus of the ad rather than the information she gave about the product".

The watchdog continued: "Notwithstanding that, we noted the interactive element of the ads could be used by website users to jump to certain words or phrases in the woman's speech which, although likely to be considered as innuendo when the ad was viewed in full, became sexually explicit when combined in different orders by the user.. the interactivity therefore accentuated the presentation of the woman as merely a sex object."

Kepak offered to include an age-gate on the website but the ASA said since the adverts were likely to cause serious and widespread offence this would not be sufficient to ensure they complied with the CAP Code.

The ASA concluded the website adverts should be banned immediately, and that Kepak should ensure any similar ads were appropriately targeted so they would not be viewed by children and that they would not cause serious and/or widespread offence.