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Sex sells but caution advised

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has warned advertisers that it will be taking a stricter approach to the use of sexualised imagery in outdoor advertising, especially in areas where children may see the images.
The policy statement, released 7 October 2011, takes a two-tier approach, which identifies advertising that is appropriate only in areas that children will be less likely to see it and advertising that will not be acceptable in any area.

It warns, "Advertisers should be particularly cautious about the imagery they use to advertise gentlemen's clubs or sex shops because our research tells us that the public responds differently to those images in light of the product or service offered."

"In touch with the acceptable norms"


Commenting on the statement, Gail Schimmel, director of Clear Copy, a marketing regulation advisory service, says, "The South African ASA has been fairly permissive in the imagery that it allows on outdoor advertising. It will be interesting to see if a change in the international approach has any effect on how the local ASA considers these matters."

She adds that certain images identified by the UK ASA as 'unacceptable' are images that the South African ASA would allow. "I would be sorry to see a move towards an overly conservative approach, but we also have to remain in touch with the acceptable norms of the rest of the world."

The statement is available here.
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