Sexually suggestive e-cigarette advert banished to the late-night TV hinterlands after more than 100 viewers complain
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Wednesday 26 February 2014
An innuendo-laced advertisement for e-cigarettes can only be shown after 11pm because of its apparent reference to oral sex, watchdogs have ruled.
More than 100 viewers complained over the adverts for VIP Electronic Cigarettes, which were shown during I’m a Celebrity on ITV.
One advert showed a woman speaking directly to the camera, who states: “I want you to get it out. I want to see it, feel it, hold it. Put it in my mouth. I want to see how great it tastes.”
A second commercial, shows a man making similar statements including: “Do you want to see it? I can get it out if you like.”
The Advertising Standards Authority said it “acknowledged the complainants’ concerns that the presentation of the ads included implied references to oral sex.”
The body ruled: “We considered the sexually provocative presentation of the male and female characters in conjunction with a graphic description of oral sex was likely to cause serious and widespread offence to viewers who viewed the ads during normal evening viewing.”
However the ASA rejected complaints that the adverts were “sexist, degrading and exploited women.” The watchdog found that the adverts “contained no explicit sexual imagery and concluded by revealing that the commentary related to an e-cigarette.”
A post-11pm restriction should have been applied to the adverts, which breached the broadcasting code rules on scheduling.
The ASA also rejected complaints over an accompanying female voice-over, which stated “If you're gonna Vape, Vape with VIP”. Some viewers said “vape” was a wordplay on “rape”.
The manufacturers said the statement was used to target e-cigarette vapers and tobacco cigarette smokers, who were considering switching to e-cigarettes.
The ruling follows the return to UK screens of Big Tobacco advertising for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Last week British American Tobacco announced its foray into the lucrative e-cigarette market with a TV, press and poster campaign for Vype, its electronic substitute for smoking.
Over the next few months the advert is slated to appear more than 300 times in the breaks between shows as diverse as Brit Cops: Zero Tolerance, Mock The Week, and even 24 Hours in A&E.
The total campaign is expected to cost BAT several million pounds as it attempts to establish a foothold in a market which is already worth $3 billion worldwide.
Health campaigners fear the post-watershed adverts will “re-glamourise” the act of smoking for a younger audience.
The ASA admitted that currently there are no specific rules regarding e-cigarette marketing and that adverts merely have to ensure they do not contain anything likely to be misleading, harmful or offensive. A consultation will be launched on potential specific restrictions in the next few weeks.
Unlike real tobacco, advertising electronic cigarettes is legal, but EU rules have banned the product being displayed.
Thee television adverts for E-Lite electronic cigarettes were banned by the ASA last September after it said the company did not make it clear that the products contained nicotine. Adverts must make it clear that the product does contain nicotine and that they are only available to smokers over the age of 18.
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