Suggestive Confused.com ad cleared of ‘degrading women’

The ad watchdog has cleared the car insurance comparison brand Confused.com of charges of degrading women, despite it conceding the spot “included an implied reference to oral sex” and prompting hundreds of complaints.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuWOQM5waQk

The TV ad which featured Confused.com’s brand mascot Brian knocking on the window of a parked car containing a startled couple with a woman “sprain upright” after initially appearing out of view from the camera. 

Over 137 people complained that the ad was offensive as they said it implied oral sex was taking place in the vehicle and was degrading to women, there was also the possibility it could be seen by children, according to complainants. 

However, The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld Confused.com’s assertion that the ad was unlikely to cause widespread offence as it was approved by Clearcast to air post the 9pm watershed, and therefore sufficiently unlikely to be seen by children. 

Despite admitting the ad may be viewed as “distasteful” to some, the ASA noted the ad contained no “explicit reference to sex”, and no “explicit sexual imagery”, therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The watchdog’s ruling also read: “We acknowledged the complainants’ concerns that the presentation of the ad included an implied reference to oral sex. We acknowledged that the dishevelled appearance of the couple; the positioning of the woman; the surrounding location; and the reaction of the couple added to that impression.” 

Confused.com was also cleared of a third charge of degrading women – due to the implied oral sex reference – but the ASA ruled this “did not depict the woman as a sexual object, nor did it suggest that the woman was in distress.” 

The ad was cleared and no further action is to be taken. 

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