Confused.com 'oral sex' ad escapes ban despite 137 complaints

Confused.com: ad escapes ban
Confused.com: ad escapes ban

Confused.com has escaped an ad ban for its risky creative of a couple being caught unawares in a parked car, despite 137 complaints.

The ad, created by Publicis, features brand character "Brian the robot" knocking on the window of a parked car.

The appearance of Brian startles the man seated in the driver’s seat, while the woman sat next to him is shown springing into view in the passenger seat.

Brian says, "I’ve run your details through my extensive circuits resulting in a saving of £225 on your car insurance," to which the man replies, "That’s alright, that is." Brian then asks, "Who is our daddy?" to which the man responds, "I don’t know".

The ad was approved to air by broadcast watchdog Clearcast on the proviso that it did not appear before 9pm.

While Confused.com stuck to its post-watershed air time, the ad received a number of complaints that it was offensive for an implied reference to oral sex,. Some complainants also said the ad was unsuitable for children and others called it degrading to women.

Confused.com responded that the couple featured were fully clothed and sat in a car outside their house, about to set off on a journey. In addition, the woman was shown to sit up from the footwell on her side of the car, and that the delay in the woman seeing the robot allowed for a comedic shock reaction at the appearance of the character.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that the presentation of the ad included an implied reference to oral sex, but that there was no explicit reference to sex or use of sexual imagery.

The ASA concluded the time restriction on the ad was appropriate to minimise the risk of younger children seeing it, and in terms of the offence caused by the reference to oral sex, said: "Whilst we acknowledged that some viewers might find the ad distasteful, we considered it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

"We considered the ad did not depict the woman as a sexual object, nor did it suggest that the woman was in distress. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was not likely to be viewed as degrading to women."

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