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March 2, 2015
Is This Ad Offensive To You?
 
Sometimes it is difficult for us to tell if the line of sexism and the objectification of women has been crossed, or if the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is listening to those folks "searching" for ways to be offended.

Now it is true that AdLand is still figuring out ways to attract attention. It is also true that although the adage "sex sells" does indeed exist, recent research suggests that the attention that sex and sex appeal attracts rarely equates to sales.

So we continue around this non-revenue-generating, un-fun circle about sexism. Awesome.

Recently the ASA, the UK's ad-regulatory agency, banned an advertisement done by Ogilvy & Mather for UK-based mobile phone company Kazam. When we read the article and the complaints, we thought it was going to be basically softcore plus a phone at the end. When we actually watched the ad, we found it difficult to reach the decision to ban the ad.

You can watch it below (It starts with a woman in underwear, otherwise SFW).

As a red-blooded, 20-something male, what did we do after we saw the ad? We went immediately to the Kazam website to see if the phone was available in the States. The phone looked fantastic. We actually stayed on the site for a while checking the specs to see how it rivaled our Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Perhaps because we talk and write about marketing every day, we have become numb to the fact that the girl, though pretty, was barely dressed and had no real effect on us. But to the "unassuming" public, it could have been strikingly offensive.

It's hard for us, because we feel like there are so many worse offenders when it comes to sexism and objectification that this shouldn't raise any eyebrows. Besides, like the article said, the ad tackles a real-life issue: ironing something with a phone in it. We nearly did that this weekend with our wallet in our slacks.

Verdict for us: no big deal. What's your verdict?

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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