ASA slams ‘offensive’ Telewest ad

Telewest Broadband has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an ‘aggressive’ advertising campaign that prompted more complaints than any campaign since Yves Saint Laurent’s (YSL) Sophie Dahl poster.

The ASA ruled that the press and poster campaign’s strapline, “Stay on that bloody phone”, was offensive. Telewest says it will end the campaign as a result of the complaints being upheld.

The campaign prompted 261 complaints nationwide. In December 2000, YSL’s campaign featuring Sophie Dahl naked created a national outcry, leading to 971 complaints to the ASA (MW December 21, 2000).

The ASA noted that “bloody” was a mild swear word, but felt the tone was aggressive rather than humorous and said the ad could be seen by children.

Telewest argued that the campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, was intended to be humorous. It said it had consulted the ASA’s copy advice team, which decided the ad was unlikely to offend.

The Plymouth Evening Herald, which received complaints from readers after it ran the ad, said it did not think the word was offensive but changed the strapline, with permission from Telewest, after receiving the complaints.

The campaign was designed to promote Telewest’s Talk Unlimited service, which allows customers to make unlimited local and national calls for &£25 a month.

The ASA upheld a complaint against a Virgin Mobile poster campaign, created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, which showed images of sexual activity.

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