Advertising watchdog lashes Telefónica for ads with sexual innuendo and 'MILF' word
Mobile giant Telefónica, owner of the O2 network, has fallen afoul of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland for a series of racy TV, radio, outdoor and internet ads, including the use of the word ‘MILF’ in a radio ad.
Telefónica, in a series of ads promoting its new 48 network for 18 to 22-year-olds, attracted complaints over the nature of the ads on media targeted at youth.
These include a TV ad where a young girl concludes “things happen when you turn 18, and the next 48 months are about to get crazy”, a TV sponsorship along the same lines for the soap Home and Away, a radio ad that also went out on YouTube that complainants felt encouraged promiscuity, a radio ad called a ‘Boy’s Manifesto’ that used the word MILF, a series of outdoor ads and internet ads that appeared on Facebook, Muzu, Xbox and Yahoo! that allowed users to mouse over an image that showed a girl exposing her bra.
Another interactive ad that went out on Yahoo! as a flash banner ad showed a girl unzipping another girl’s top from the chest down.
Complaints ranged from how the ads encouraged casual sexual relations, contained sexual innuendo, were suitable for adults only and had no place in media targeted at teens and particularly school-going children.
In its response, Telefónica said its advertising was in no way designed to cause controversy or offence but rather was designed to tap into their target market’s insight and to connect with them at a particular life stage.
Breaching the code
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints about the TV ads chosen for during Home and Away but didn’t uphold the complaints about the TV sponsorship stings.
The complaints against the radio ad ‘A Girl’s Manifesto’ were not upheld because the committee considered the girl was in control of herself and her encounters.
However, the radio ad ‘Boy's Manifesto’ complaint was upheld because use of the word MILF – made famous by the Hollywood blockbuster American Pie – was deemed to be sexually exploitative and contravened section 2.15 and 2.19 of the Advertising Code.
Some of the complaints against the series of outdoor ads were upheld as were the mouse-over ad and the banner ad on Yahoo!
“Advertisements that were found to be in breach of the code should not be used in their current format again,” the ASAI ruled.
“The Complaints Committee expressed concern at the overall thrust of the campaign and reminded the advertisers that the use of undesirable innuendo and provocative images merely to attract attention was not permitted under the code.”