Complaint: 17/395

Out of home, Poster

Details

Complainants
advertisers
The Court Theatre
Year
2017
Media
Out of Home
Product
Entertainment
Clauses
Decision
Not Upheld
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document

Document





COMPLAINT NUMBER
17/395
COMPLAINANT
E. O'Donoghue
ADVERTISER
The Court Theatre
ADVERTISEMENT
Out of home, Poster
DATE OF MEETING
14 November 2017
OUTCOME
Not Upheld


SUMMARY

The poster advertisement for the play 'Venus in Fur' at the Court Theatre showed a man
and woman from the waist up about to kiss. The woman is wearing a top and the man is
topless.

The Complainant was concerned the poster advertisement for the play 'Venus in the Fur'
showed a highly sexualised image that was able to be seen by the general public including
children and appeared in close proximity to another advertisement with similar imagery from
the AIDS Foundation promoting HIV testing.

The Advertiser said the image used in the advertisement for play 'Venus in Fur', had sexual
connotations but were not at a level that most children would understand, and was not
explicit.

The Complaints Board acknowledged the advertisement was provocative in that is showed
a passionate embrace but said it did not reach the threshold to offend against general y
prevailing community standards or cause serious or widespread offence. The Complaints
Board ruled the advertisement was not in breach of Rules 4 or 5 of the Code of Ethics and
had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 of
the Code of Ethics.

The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

[No further action required]

Please note this headnote does not form part of the Decision.




COMPLAINTS BOARD DECISION

The Chair directed the Complaints Board to consider whether the advertisement was in
breach of Basic Principle 4 or Rules 4 or 5 of the Code of Ethics. This required the
Complaints Board to consider whether the advertisement contained anything which clearly
offended against general y prevailing community standards, or was likely to cause serious or
widespread offence, taking into account the context, medium, audience and product
(including services) and whether the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of
social responsibility to consumers and society.



17/395

The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

The Complaint
The Complainant was concerned the poster advertisement for the play 'Venus in the Fur'
showed a highly sexualised image that was able to be seen by the general public and
specifical y children.

The Complaints Board noted the Complainant was concerned about the placement of the
Court Theatre advertisement in close proximity to another advertisement with similar
imagery from the AIDs Foundation promoting HIV testing.

Response from Advertiser, The Court Theatre
The Advertiser said the advertisement for the play 'Venus in the Fur' showed an image of
"the heads of two adults in close and intense embrace."

The Advertiser said from the perspective of the likely audience, the image in the
advertisement "is evocative of the themes of the play but any sexual connotations of the
image are not of a level that would be readily understood by most children."

Regarding the nature of the image, the Advertiser responded, "it is not a 'highly sexualised'
image as described by E O'Donoghue. It is not exposing, explicit nor salacious. It is not an
out of the ordinary image when considering seductive imagery used in various advertising
mediums to sel commodities."

The Advertiser also referenced the context of the advertisement is for a theatrical play and
was of the view "there is a corol ary importance of artistic freedom of expression (which, we
acknowledge, may be fettered in appropriate cases, this not being one)."

Response from the Media, Phantom Billboards
Phantom Bil boards responded to the concerns of the Complainant about the image on the
poster and their concerns about its placement stating, in part: "The woman in the poster is
clothed and they're not actual y kissing one another. The relationship between the two
characters is presumably a key part of the play being promoted, so the use of this image to
promote it doesn't strike me as gratuitous or designed to provoke."

In terms of the placement of the two similar images on the same poster bol ard, Phantom
said this "was unintentional, unfortunate and unhelpful to either campaign. We run hundreds
of different poster designs at any one time so it's a little unlucky and perhaps something I
should have anticipated. I can appreciate the complainant's point of view and why they'd be
feeling that it's a bit too much."

Complaints Board Discussion
The Complaints Board noted the Complainant's concern the image of the man and woman
kissing was highly sexualised and could be seen by children.

The Complaints Board noted the advertisement was for a play which featured adult themes
and was intended for an adult audience. It said the image was not 'highly sexualised' and
disagreed the advertisement depicted a sexual act taking place as suggested by
Complainant. The Complaints Board acknowledged the advertisement was provocative in
that is showed a passionate embrace but said it did not reach the threshold to offend
against general y prevailing community standards or cause serious or widespread offence.

The Complaints Board noted there was a level of risk in using an untargeted medium where
an advertisement can be seen by a general audience and in the instance before it, the
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combination of two unrelated advertisements which contained similar images created an
overal impression for the Complainant. However, when the image and placement of the
advertisement before it was considered, the Complaints Board said it did not reach the
threshold to be considered to cause serious or widespread offence to most people taking
into account the context, medium, likely audience and product.

The Complaints Board ruled the advertisement was not in breach of Rules 4 or 5 of the
Code of Ethics and had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to
consumers and society required by Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics.

Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

Decision: Complaint Not Upheld



DESCRIPTION OF ADVERTISEMENT

The poster advertisement for the play 'Venus in Fur' at the Court Theatre showed a man
and woman from the waist up about to kiss. The woman is wearing a top and the man is
topless.

COMPLAINT FROM E O'DONOGHUE

I find both adverts offensive because they are:

1. Highly sexualised, and
2. On ful public display.

It's evident when you look at each poster that sex is either taking place or about to. I'm
concerned young children are being exposed to highly sexualised content (would you like
your 4 year old to see this?). This should not be on ful public display.

CODE OF ETHICS

Basic Principle 4: Al advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social
responsibility to consumers and to society.

Rule 4: Decency - Advertisements should not contain anything which clearly
offends against general y prevailing community standards taking into account the
context, medium, audience and product (including services).

Rule 5: Offensiveness - Advertisements should not contain anything which in the
light of general y prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or
widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product
(including services).

RESPONSE FROM ADVERTISER - THE COURT THEATRE

Thank you for affording us with the opportunity to respond to E O'Donoghue's complaint
dated 20 October 2017

We do not consider that the relevant "Venus in Fur" advertisement breaches Advertising
Codes of Ethics (namely, Basic Principle 4, Rule 4 and Rule 5 as cited in your letter).

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17/395
? We prepared the advertisements with the requisite due sense of social responsibility to
consumers and to society.
? Further, the advertisement meets decency standards and while it may have offended E
O'Donoghue, it is not offensive to general y prevailing community standards.

The image is of the heads of two adults in close and intense embrace.

For adults, the image is evocative of the themes of the play but any sexual connotations of
the image are not of a level that would be readily understood by most children.

Further it is not a "highly sexualised" image as described by E O'Donoghue. It is not
exposing, explicit nor salacious. It is not an out of the ordinary image when considering
seductive imagery used in various advertising mediums to sel commodities.

We ask that the Complaints Board takes into consideration that the advertisement is for a
theatrical play and that there is a corol ary importance of artistic freedom of expression
(which, we acknowledge, may be fettered in appropriate cases, this not being one).

RESPONSE FROM MEDIA - PHANTOM BILLSTICKERS

I considered both of these images prior to the campaigns running.

I didn't feel that either was beyond the bounds of decency (and the test I run is exactly along
the lines of what the complainant states - "would I want my children to see this").

The Court Theatre campaign has run throughout Christchurch and the HIV Testing
campaign has run in several cities nationwide.

I didn't anticipate any issues arising with the Court Theatre poster.

The woman in the poster is clothed and they're not actual y kissing one another.
The relationship between the two characters is presumably a key part of the play being
promoted, so the use of this image to promote it doesn't strike me as gratuitous or designed
to provoke.

I am less surprised to get a complaint about the HIV Testing poster as some of the public
find same sex contact offensive.

However the men in the poster are both wearing trousers and they're not behaving
indecently; kissing is general y deemed acceptable public conduct, as is going without a shirt
for men.

The Public Good promoted by this poster (Testing enabling safer behaviour and proactive
treatment preventing the spread and harm caused by HIV) is in my view considerable we
therefore considered it wel worth giving people pause to stop and consider.

The placement of the two images on the same poster bol ard was unintentional, unfortunate
and unhelpful to either campaign.

We run hundreds of different poster designs at any one time so it's a little unlucky and
perhaps something I should have anticipated.

I can appreciate the complainant's point of view and why they'd be feeling that it's a bit too
much.

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I'd be happy to answer any other questions on this matter.

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