Dirty weekend is cleaner in France

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The Independent Online
Across the Channel, they will be sniggering into their coq au vin tonight. Having long considered the British to be inferior in matters d'amour, it now emerges that we cannot even get our dirty weekends right.

When a British advertisement for Air Miles offered customers just such a weekend, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled it was "too sleazy". But yesterday it decided that the French Government Tourist Office could use the same phrase, it being in "better taste".

Using the slogan "Clean air, clean countryside, clean living - the perfect dirty weekend", the tourist office aimed to attract lovers to the Picardy region. But complainants were unhappy about the undertones of the phrase, saying it was offensive. The ASA differed and found no reason for it to be withdrawn.

The Air Miles advert featured a man and woman embracing and the headline: "Free from Air Miles: a dirty weekend that'll make her THINK you're filthy rich." It added: "We all know the way to a man's heart. The way to a woman's, however, is a little further flung." Complainants said it was "sleazy" and that it portrayed women as cheap and materialistic.

An ASA spokesman said yesterday: "It's all about the context in which it appears." But despite their "victory", the judgement does not appear to have improved French views of Anglo-Saxon attitudes. Denis Fabri, of the French Tourist Office, said: "The people who complained are probably frustrated. Offer them a dirty weekend and they would jump at it."

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