The advertisement featured a close-up rear-view of a woman wearing shorts, a short top and a golf glove on one hand. She is holding a golf club behind her back which is resting on the top of her thighs, at the edge of her shorts. Text stated “Libertys Your 19th Hole for the Summer. Open every Saturday, Bank Holiday Sunday & Friday 6th July. Facebook.com/clublibertys”
64 complaints were received. The main issues raised were in relation to the advertisement being offensive, misogynistic and promoting a rape culture.
Many complainants considered that the advertisement had an inappropriate focus on the image of the woman’s bottom and that the depiction of the woman reduced her to a sexual object and that she was objectified in the advertisement. Some complainants considered that the advertisement implied that the woman was a ‘golf hole’, and a number of complainants suggested that despite the golfing term ‘19th hole’ relating to a club bar, in this case it was a reference to the woman’s bottom.
Many complainants also considered the implication was that men could access sex with young women at the nightclub and that it prompted sexually predatory behaviour.
In their response the advertiser stated that no offense was intended by their advertising. They said the term 19th hole was a “slang term for a pub or bar after a round of golf”, referencing Wikipedia as the source of the term’s explanation. They said the advertisement was being used to promote Liberty’s nightclub as a potential venue (i.e. 19th hole) for tourists coming to town during the upcoming Irish Open golf tournaments. They said the billboard was erected on Friday 11th May and was taken down at 7am on Monday 14th May, the next working day.
The Executive contacted the advertiser and asked them to comment on the use of the woman featured in the advertisement.
In their response the advertiser stated it was decided that the wording would be complimented by the image of a man or woman with a golf club. They said there was no conscious decision to use an image of a woman as opposed to a man in the advertisement. They said that during the finalisation of the advertisement some image options were considered for inclusion that were of a man as opposed to a woman.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisers had withdrawn some of the advertising within a short period of time.
The Committee considered the content of the advertising in particular the fact that it had depicted an image focused on the woman’s thighs and buttocks. They noted the Code requirements that advertisements should avoid causing offence on the grounds of gender or the exploitation or demeaning of women and should respect the principle of the equality of men and women. Accordingly, the Committee considered that the depiction and content was in breach of the Code. In light of the number and nature of the complaints received, they also considered that the advertisement had caused grave and widespread offence, and to be in breach of the Code.
The advertisers were advised that the advertising should not run again in its current format and any future advertising content for any similar events should respect the principle of equality of men and women.