The ad, for web hosting company Dreamscape Networks’ domains.co.uk site, featured Anderson chairing a meeting wearing office wear that revealed her cleavage. When Anderson’s female assistant poured her a cup of coffee and asked if she wanted cream, a male office worker began fantasising about the pair of women dancing in bikinis while covered in cream.
It was cleared by Clearcast, which did not believe the ad would cause widespread offence, but with a restriction that it should not be broadcast before 9pm. This was a decision based partly on the fact it featured Pamela Anderson, a celebrity known for flaunting her body.
In spite of the restriction, four viewers complained to the advertising watchdog the spot was offensive, sexist and degrading to women.
Dreamscape Networks explained the ad intended to be comical and the role of sex and sexuality in the ad was part of the overall joke, which drew attention to the advertised service and brand name. While the fantasy bikini sequence was “suggestive in nature”, Dreamscape said it was not gratuitous or pornographic.
The company said the female characters were portrayed as strong, confident business women and the majority of viewers would find the ad “fanciful and humorous”.
The Advertising Standards Authority understood the ad was intended to be humorous and lighthearted but considered the bikini fantasy scene gave the impression the male office worker viewed his female colleagues as “sexual objects to be lusted after”.
The ASA banned the ad on the grounds that it was likely to cause serious events to some viewers because it was “sexist and degrading to women”.