Advertising on Joe.ie and Waterford Whispers.ie for Sprite’s #BrutallyRefreshing campaign featured bottles of Sprite Zero and regular Sprite alongside the following captions:
“SHE’S SEEN MORE CEILINGS… THAN MICHELANGELO”
“YOU’RE NOT POPULAR…YOU’RE EASY”
“A 2 AT 10 IS A 10 AT 2”
Ten complaints were received in relation to the Campaign. All complainants considered that the advertising was sexist, degrading to women, offensive and insulting. Several of the complainants also considered that the advertisement was misogynistic.
The advertisers said that they strive to deliver the highest standards of advertising. They recognised that on this occasion the content had not met with their or their consumers’ expectations. They also said that when they realised their advertising was causing concern, they immediately had it removed and issued a public apology for any offence caused.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response, including that they had withdrawn the advertising and issued a public apology.
The Complaints Committee noted that the Code acknowledged that humour was acceptable in advertising but that the portrayal of people should not be likely “to cause grave or widespread offence, or to cause hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule”. They also noted the Code requirement for advertisers to “avoid the exploitation of sexuality and the use of coarseness and undesirable innuendo” and that “offensive or provocative copy or images” should not be used merely to attract attention.
The Committee considered that the advertising had caused grave offence, had been exploitative of sexuality and had used coarse and undesirable innuendo. In addition, it had used offence and provocative copy. In the circumstances, the Complaints Committee considered the advertising to be in breach of Sections 3.16 and 3.20 of the Code.
As the advertising had been withdrawn no further action was required in this case.