Cable TV and satellite channel Bravo could face compulsory vetting of its outdoor advertising because of a controversial poster campaign for The Howard Stern Show.
The campaign by Mother, which broke early this week, is part of a £1m push behind the US “shock jock”, and has already attracted a number of complaints from the public.
The five posters are based on typically outrageous Stern quotes, including: “If you are poor and ugly, you might as well cut off your penis,” and “It’s OK for a man to commit adultery if his wife is ugly.”
The “ugly wife” ad is already being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a complaint about its use in a national press ad two months ago. Rather than dropping the offending line for the poster campaign, Bravo tried to soften its impact by adding quotation marks.
But the tactic – which was extended across the campaign – appears to have backfired after the ASA revealed it received five complaints about the posters in 24 hours.
Under Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) guidelines, companies whose posters are found to breach taste and decency rules have to submit all outdoor advertising copy for approval for a period of two years.
Even if the complaints about the poster ads are not upheld, Bravo could face compulsory poster vetting as a result of the press ad.
The ASA’s Steve Ballinger says: “If the complaint about the press ad is upheld, the ruling could apply across the media, because it is the same ad.
“The responsible thing for Bravo to have done would have been to consult the CAP copy team when they were notified of the original complaint.”
Mike Smallwood, senior vice-president of marketing at Bravo’s parent company Flextech, says: “The Howard Stern programme is controversial and he makes outrageous statements. That has to be reflected in the campaign.”