Amazon slammed by ASA for lewd ad

An Amazon UK listing for a Christmas card featuring the word “c**t” has been banned by the advertising regulator because it was likely to cause “serious or widespread offence”.

Smellyourmum Amazon ad
The Amazon product listing, with offending word blanked out.

The ruling comes in the same month Amazon US was forced to remove product listings for t-shirts on the site created by US clothing firm Solid Gold Bomb, which brandished the slogans “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot” and “Keep Calm and Hit Her”, following customer complaints.

The Christmas card on the UK site was created by a company called and included text stating “You’re a c**t. Sorry, I meant to say ‘Merry Christmas’”. This listing, which featured an image of the card with the offensive word in full and text with it masked by an asterisk, prompted a complaint challenging whether the listing was “inappropriate and offensive”.

In response, Amazon said it was “inappropriate” for the ASA to investigate the display of a product for sale, especially if that investigation targeted one retailer amongst many selling the same product online. The retailer also queried whether it was within the ASA’s remit to prevent the display of product titles and images which were “not otherwise prohibited by applicable decency laws”.

Furthermore, Amazon asserted it was confident the display of the product image was compliant with the CAP code and was not “offensive”, “aggressive” or “lewd” in its message – noting Code rule 4.1 states marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching the rule.

The Advertising Standards Authority confirmed the product listing was an advertisement, which falls within the remit of the CAP Code and was appropriate to investigate. It acknowledged the product was available to purchase on other sites online but because it had received a complaint specific to and Amazon it needed to investigate in that context.

The regulator acknowledged the card did not target a particular group and was more likely to be viewed by adults rather than children.

Nonetheless, it ruled the word “c**t” was so likely to offend it should not be used at all in marketing communications and was likely to cause “serious or widespread offence”.

Latest from Marketing Week

Marketoonist on PowerPoint pitches

The Marketoonist

Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here Tom Fishburne will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing, which is taking place on 4 and 5 October at Tobacco Dock. To find out more information, including how to book tickets, visit […]


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here