Sun newspaper banned from using 'sexist' and 'demeaning' Page 3 Girl date competition

Advertising Standards Agency upheld complaints against Murdoch's paper

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The Independent Online

A Sun newspaper competition offering the winner a date with a Page 3 girl has been banned for being "sexist and demeaning".

The paper's Dream Team fantasy football raffle was reported 1,036 times to an advertising regulator after "the light-hearted marketing exercise" was sent out to its subscribers by email.

The promotion offered readers who recruited 10 or more players a chance to win a date with a topless model and it also stated that they would "let you pick which one".

It said: "We might even let you pick which one, so feel free to start your research now... Don’t listen to your girlfriend when she says size doesn’t matter. The bigger your Mini League is, the more prizes you can get your mitts on."

Complaints, mainly sent through campaigning platform SumOfUs.org, argued that the offer of a date was sexist, demeaning, offensive and objectified women.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaints and banned the promotion, which demeaned women as "simply objects to be selected at the whim and enjoyment of the winner, and had no choice in the matter themselves."

The regulator added: “In the context of the ad, we considered that to offer a date with a woman as a reward for success in the game was demeaning to women and objectified those offered as prizes.

"Because we considered that the email presented the women as objects to be won, we concluded that it was sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible."

A Sun spokesman said the paper will abide by the ruling despite its "deep disappointment with the decision," stating that other companies use the prize of a date as part of their competition promotions.

He said: "We note that there have been countless campaigns of a broadly similar, light-hearted nature run by other companies – including those involving a ‘win a date with’ scenario – which have not been ruled ‘socially inappropriate’ by the ASA."

No More Page 3 campaigners welcomed the ruling and said: "This is a winning result for equality from the ASA, we're glad The Sun is paying the penalty for treating women as nothing more than cheeky trophies for heterosexual men.

"They would also do well to acknowledge that their sexist tactics were an insult to female and LGBT footie fans."

News UK, publisher of The Sun, had argued in its submission to the ASA that it was "appropriate" for the target audience – 93% of email recipients were male – and that it would not offend them.

It added that the promotion did not use "seductive, glamorous or inappropriate images" and a number of Page 3 Girls were also Dream Team mini-league "chairmen".

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