ASA rejects Man United complaint over ‘offensive’ Britvic campaign

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint from Manchester United football club, after it tried to have an ironic ad for Britvic’s Red Card energy drink banned for attacking its reputation.

The Premiership champions claimed a poster through HHCL & Partners for the energy drink, headlined: “If you can smell fear Man Utd must REEK,” above Chelmsford City footballers embracing, was “offensive”.

It argued the ad could provoke anti-social behaviour, and that it made unfair use of the goodwill surrounding the club’s name.

But the ASA threw out the complaints, agreeing with Britvic that the ad was clearly intended to be funny.

This month’s ASA report saw complaints upheld about a regional press ad featuring Princess Diana in a kinky black PVC catsuit and carrying a whip for the satirical magazine Insider, with the caption: “We wish all our readers a spanking new year.” The Lord Chamberlain’s Office objected that the ad was offensive and had been run without its permission, which is required before a member of the Royal Family can feature in an advertisement.

Other adjudications concerned the lobbyists Respect for Animals, which ran a graphic anti-fur poster featuring the skinned head of a dead fox. The ad, which was launched with the help of pop star Cathy Dennis and MP Ken Livingstone, was denounced as “sickening” by members of the public and the British Fur Trade Association.

The ASA ruled the image was so shocking it was unacceptable.

A Nintendo magazine ad through Leo Burnett featuring a woman tied to a bed, and a Pepe jeans ad in Loaded magazine through Leagas Delaney with the headline “Practise safe sex. Get a virgin” were also banned for being offensive and irresponsible.

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