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Advertiser: Virgin Media
Medium: Poster, Social Media, Television
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4C, 3.16, 3.20
The Television advertisement opens with a bright sign containing the words “Welcome to Promiscuity”. We see a small white chapel with people inside dressed in various eccentric outfits. One person featured looks like Marilyn Monroe. An Elvis lookalike appears on an altar type stage setting wearing a flamboyant red suit, cape, gold shoes and sun glasses. He starts to sing:
“Only fools rush in baby, so let’s be fools. Cut the commitment (white poodle appears alongside a wedding cake) and you can get a no strings 30 day marriage at the Virgin Media Chapel; uh huh huh. All you got to do is get it on”.
A male voiceover then informs viewers that:
“The age of promiscuity is here so set your entertainment free. Long live Virgin Media no strings 30 day TV and Broadband contracts”.
On-screen text refers once again to:
“30 day no strings TV and Broadband Contracts”.
Outdoor posters stated “The age of promiscuity is here with our 30 days no strings contract.” A tweet from the advertisers stated “Welcome to promiscuity. The age of promiscuity is here. So let’s get it on! Long live Virgin Media’s no strings # 30 day contract.”
24 complaints were received in relation to the advertising campaign. The common themes running through the complaints was that the advertising was offensive and distasteful. It was not suitable for younger people’s viewing and sent young people the wrong message. It labelled current society as being permissive of promiscuity and inferred that it was okay to be promiscuous and move from one contract to another.
One complainant said that the word promiscuity had been used out of context and another concurred that the word had nothing to do with broadband. Some considered that the advertisement was detrimental to professionals and parents who were trying to instil values in young people in relation to their sexual behaviour. Another said that Virgin Media was a platform used by young people and as such they should exercise more care with the content of their advertising.
The advertisers said they were disappointed to receive complaints in relation to their advertising. They said they had meant their campaign to be satirical and to clearly portray in a humorous manner the eccentricities of the infamous Las Vegas wedding chapel and the characters associated with that genre.
They said the campaign in question was intended to raise awareness and highlight the benefits of their new 30 day contracts for customers through a parody of the Las Vegas wedding genre, which had become synonymous with a low level commitment. It had been their intention to draw attention to the fact that customers were no longer restricted to long term contracts, as their research had indicated that there was a need for shorter contracts especially for students and people who were renting their property.
In conclusion the advertisers said that it had never been intended to present any undesirable innuendo, and the use of caricatures such as Elvis and Marilyn was intended to highlight the sense of satire and humour without causing any offence.
Complaints not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. While noting the concerns expressed in relation to the potential encouragement to young people to behave in a promiscuous manner, the Committee did not consider that this was the message portrayed or contained within the advertising. They noted the particular setting and genre for the advertising in question had been presented in a humorous and satirical way and that the purpose of the Campaign had been to highlight the short term contracts available from the provider to their customers in relation to TV and broadband. They did not consider the content to be offensive or sexual nor that there was an element of promiscuity featured. They accepted that there had been a play on the word ‘promiscuity’ but when the advertising was viewed as a whole, the Committee did not consider it to be in breach of the requirements of the Code.”
ACTION REQUIRED: No further action was required in this case.