Watchdog rules against ‘violent’ advert

ASA holds ad 'was likely to cause serious offence'

The Advertising Standards Authority has today ruled that an advertisement for the Newspaper Marketing Agency printed in a number of national newspapers was violent and offensive and should not be used again.

The advertisement, which appeared in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Times, Independent, Guardian and Observer, depicted a large black stiletto-heeled shoe, impaled on the heel of which was a man; the heel was in a pool of blood.  It was headed ‘Killer heels by NMA’, and was intended to attract fashion advertisers to newspapers and to emphasise the ability of newspaper adverts to appeal to women.

The ASA received 81 complaints that the advertisement was offensive, sexist and unsuitable for use. The Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian and Observer defended the advertisement, arguing that it was clearly so removed from reality as to be unoffensive. The Independent did not comment and the Daily Mail admitted that, with hindsight, it was unsuitable and should not have been used.

The ASA considered that, although the image was obviously unrealistic, the advertisement trivialised and stylised violence and was therefore likely to cause widespread and serious offence to readers.  It told the advertisers not to repeat the approach.