Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 2002
20 September 2012
2002 marked a new era, with the premiere of The Wire on HBO, the publication of the Communications Bill, proposing major changes in the regulatory landscape, and CAP beginning its work of revising the CAP Code. In less significant news, Will Young won the first Pop Idol contest, heralding an era of reality show ‘talent’ contests and did not disappear into oblivion, or his mum’s spare room.
Ten years ago, we received our first complaint about interactive posters and ‘street furniture.’ A poster in bus shelters for Pretty Polly depicted a model wearing underwear with a text box near her bra which said ‘PPress for lift.’ When the text box was pressed, a recorded message was played about the product. After consideration, ASA Council decided that this did not breach the Code. CAP was also reviewing ways in which the Code could address concerns about email or text messages sent without permission, with complaints about SMS advertisements rising from six in 2001 to 65 in 2002.
In 2002 the ASA received a total of 13,959 complaints relating to 10,213 advertisements; an increase of 10.8% on the previous year, with 28% of those complaints made online via the ASA website.
One of the most controversial ads of the year was a poster for the film ‘Ali G Indahouse’ which was headed ‘Vote Ali G’ and ‘Tax Da Panty’ and depicted Ali G with his hand on a naked woman’s bottom (sort of). It prompted 116 complaints that it was offensive, and inappropriate to be seen by children in an untargeted medium. Those complaints were upheld and United International Pictures UK (responsible for the ads) earned themselves a reprimand, and a requirement to have all of their film posters pre-vetted for two years before they could appear.
Another of the ads highlighted by the Annual Report was a poster for McDonald’s declaring that there were ‘40,312 possible combinations’ of McDonald’s products, and annoying the more literal-minded consumers who questioned the maths behind the claim. ASA Council did not uphold the 154 complaints.
The most complained about ad of the year was one for the British Heart Foundation which depicted a woman with a plastic bag over her head in an effort to convey the effect of heart failure. We upheld the 315 complaints we received because of concern that children might see the ad and potentially replicate the action.
And finally, in 2002 the ASA published a study
of serious offence which reflected the public’s strong distaste for violence and sexual degradation. More up-to-date research from 2012 on what the public find harmful and offensive in advertising is also available
, and helps to guide ASA decisions to ensure that we are reflecting wider public sensibilities.
Read the 2002 Annual Report here