Every year, the amount of ads that are banned or pulled seem to rise. British regulators are too quick to ban complain ad agency heads and creatives in the UK.
In Sweden - liberal land of the free - more ads are banned as they are discriminating against women. Though nudity isn't always the reason ads are banned - sometimes humour is.
Read more to see a selection of banned ads.
Right before christmas the "ethical council against gender discriminating ads" in Sweden (also known as ERK) got real busy and banned eleven campaigns before heading home to the traditional glögg.
ERK found that the ads from Twilfit in the summer campaign "do Not Disturb" went over the line for underwear ads right to show their product on live models, by "objectifying the women by placing them in unusually provocative postitions in public places".
Another banned ad was for Wetterling Gallery - with the headline "The advantage of having a gynecologist as a gallery owner" - written between the legs of a woman lying down. ERK do not think the gallery owner can justify the position of this woman in their ad.
Swedish advertising schools aren't doing much better. An ad depicting a pregnant womans belly and breasts announcing off-campus courses in another city from Berghs school of communication was also banned by ERK.
In the UK, admen are complaining that ads are banned too fast. It can be as little as one complaint that makes UK watchdogs pressure an ad to be pulled. The nude Sophie Dahl opium poster of last year reicieved over 1000 complaints, making it the most protested ad in the past five years.
British regulators banned this ad, which featured a naked man sliding down a banister with the tagline, "If Smirnoff made painkillers".
In the uk, there are many different "watchdogs", making the rules quite hard to grasp, and they hope that one bill proposed before parliment now will create long sought for common standards of evaluating ads by combining all regulators- including one for TV, one for all broadcasting, and one for radio - into a single body.
"The government has talked about a need for a lighter regulatory touch," said Andrew Brown, director general of the Advertising Association, an industry organization. The hope is that the new superregulator "will be a liberalizing force," he said.
When it comes to showing flesh, advertisers are corseted by regulations, said Mr. Campbell of Rainey Kelly, explaining, "We are a repressed nation." Although Continental Europe has moved to clamp down on indecent and offensive advertising, especially spots that portray women in overly submissive postures, nudity is still much more accepted on the Continent, Mr. Campbell said. Not so in Britain.
J. Walter Thompson, learned that lesson when a print ad it created for Smirnoff, featuring a naked man sliding down a banister with the tagline "If Smirnoff made pain killers" was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Perhaps most frustrating, industry executives say, are the conflicting signals they receive. For instance, the standards authority recently allowed an openly sexy campaign for Lever Faberge, showing women's faces with taglines like "Play with me" and "Have fun with me."
Yet, the broadcast clearance center prohibited a television commercial for French Connection featuring a couple having a conversation in which every word began with the initials of the company, as well as two other letters of a certain four-letter word. Thats right, FCUK.
French Connections agency TBWA/London, refused to modify the commercial. instead, they ran print ads featuring the word "sorry" and directed consumers to check out the commercial on its Web site.
Chris O'Shea, executive creative director of Banks Hoggins O'Shea/ FCB, recalls feeling very frustrated at the 1999 D&AD awards (the UK's 'ad oscars' ) when Outpost.com nabbed the top honor. The ads, designed by Cliff Freeman & Partners of New York, featured gerbils shot from a cannon, and a pack of rabid dogs let loose on schoolchildren. "We could never do that stuff here," Mr. O'Shea said.
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