Monday, January 25, 2010

Advertising Adultery: Does the ASA care about your marriage?

It doesn't look like it. Dave Walker reports on an appalling company which promotes, and makes money out of, adultery. A complaint against one of their billboard adverts drew this response from the Advertising Standards Authority:

Complaints about offence often require difficult judgements but we don’t intervene where advertising is simply criticised for being in poor taste. Apart from freedom of speech considerations, even well-intentioned and thoughtful people will have different and sometimes contradictory opinions about what constitutes ‘bad taste’ or should be prohibited. We can only act if the ad, in our judgement, offends against widely accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

My emphasis. Are we really a nation which no longer finds adultery morally offensive? Is it now ok to make promises to one person, then have sex with someone else, without breaking any moral standard? Without wanting to turn into disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, I find this stomach churning, as will many people who've dealt with the fall-out of adultery and it's catastrophic effects on families, children and the adults involved. That some sick minded individuals want to turn a profit on this is bad enough, but then we already have plenty of people who profiteer from sin and no doubt we always will. But I really don't understand what the ASA are doing here.

Having said that, perhaps there was a straw in the wind last week. I've been following Kirsty Youngs series on the family on the Beeb: last week looked at the period from the late 60's to early 80's, and focused on sex. There was a cool, detached narrative on pornography, adultery, sexual promiscuity etc., without any noticeable moral judgment on any of it.

There's a Facebook group supporting the campaign against the adverts, which, if it attracts enough support, will demonstrate that ads like this do cause 'widespread offense'. Though of course, without the internet, most of us wouldn't have heard of it at all. There's a whole other discussion to be had on whether there's such a thing as 'local' anymore....

see also Maggi Dawn. Sadly the Times has a big cold slab of cynicism in the same vein as the advertisers, but hope is restored if you sort the comments by 'most recommended'.

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