The Advertising Standards Authority in South Africa has always
been strict concerning the use of overt sex as an advertisement
But the proliferation of New Media has made assimilation and
management far more difficult.
In a recent case in the UK, Facebook was used as a medium for
what was in effect blatant sexting.
A recent social media advertising campaign created by Bendon and
Mossimo encouraged people to take and upload photographs of
themselves in their underwear. The UK Authority was concerned that
such promotions could encourage "sexting".
Bendon's "Loveable Besties" campaign featured
Australian supermodel Jennifer Hawkins and her model
"bestie" taking self-portraits in Bendon's new range
of brightly coloured underwear. The Facebook advertisement
added the caption "Take Selfies with Lovable Besties to Win
Weekly Lovable Prizes".
More recently another Mossimo Facebook advertisement encouraged
entrants (over 16 years of age) to "check out Miss Universe
Australia in her own Mossimo Peep Show". Contestants
were then encouraged to upload photographs of themselves in their
underwear and "create their own peepshow" by placing a
"peephole" template frame around each picture.
The UK Board found that visitors to the website would consider
the advertisement to be encouraging people, including young
teenagers, to practice sexting – that is, uploading explicit
photographs to the internet or sending those images via mobile
The message here is clear to South African advertisers –
when using Social Media (or indeed any of the New Media) behave
responsibly. Don't create campaigns of this nature.
Firstly, the chances are that someone in this country will spot
and report communications of this nature to the ASA. South African
levels of sexual tolerance in the media is way below countries like
the UK. The consequences will be severe. Including court
Secondly, and probably even more importantly, to associate your
brand with sleaze does you no favours at all. As many marketers and
advertisers have learned to their cost over the years, damage to
your brand can be very expensive to rectify – if it is
possible at all. It just doesn't make marketing sense.
Naturally the potential damage that could be caused to young
lives is beyond calculation. To be seen by one's peers as a
potential rape target, is not always thought through by young
people and the results could be catastrophic.
This has been amply proven in a current issue in Canada. Amanda
Todd, then 12, was persuaded by a paedophile to send a topless
photograph of herself to him. He promptly circulated this to her
school. She was mercilessly bullied and so changed schools. The
paedophile then spread the pictures to her new school. The result?
At the age of 15 she hanged herself.
We are not suggesting that creative concepts should be namby
pamby – just take a responsible attitude. And if you are not
sure, consult a specialist legal practice like DM Kisch Inc, and
don't get caught with your knickers down!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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