One poster featured an image of a woman outdoors in a bikini holding open the trouser bottoms and taking a photograph of her genitals while a lion stood behind her. Accompanying text read “Smart may have the brains but stupid has the balls, be stupid. Diesel.”
Another outdoor ad, showed a woman on a stepladder lifting her top and exposing her breast to a security camera with the same “Be Stupid” message. Similar themed ads also appeared in magazines Grazia and Dazed & Confused
The Advertising Standards Authority received 33 complaints on the grounds that children could see the ads, that the ads were offensive and that the condoned anti-social behaviour.
Diesel defended the ads, saying that the poster with the lion showed a strong image of femininity with confident behaviour and other ads tackled camera surveillance in a light and non-threatening way. It said that collectively the “Be Stupid campaign was a rallying call to do things differently and “live a life less ordinary.”
The ASA agreed that none of the ads showed full frontal nudity and dismissed the complaints in regard to the magazines but thought that the posters were likely to be seen by children and that they were also likely to cause “serious offence” to many adults.
It also ruled the poster ad of the girl on the stepladder might encourage anti-social and irresponsible behaviour and said the poster ads must not run again in current form.