ASA Adjudication on TDC
DK-0900 Copenhagen C
Viasat Broadcasting UK Ltd
Viasat Broadcasting Centre
16 February 2011
Computers and telecommunications
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for TDC, a telecommunications provider, featured a man and a woman dressed in nude suits. The woman sang a song in Danish, the lyrics of which included the phrase "... jag er så fucking stolt ...".
One viewer, who saw the ad on TV3 Denmark, thought the ad contained the word 'fucking' and the swearing was offensive.
TDC said the ad was part of a long running and well-known humorous campaign, introduced in Denmark in September 2009, based around three famous comedic actors playing the roles of a middle-aged married couple and their neighbour. The husband and wife were naturists. The neighbour had no phone, Internet or TV and the couple's aim was to get him updated on telecommunications. The campaign had been rolled out on national Danish TV as an ongoing series of ads.
In the ad complained about, the husband and wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. The woman (Britta) gave a tribute to her husband Claus with a song written to the tune of a best-selling Danish hit. Some phrases of Britta's song, including the phrase "fucking stolt", had not been changed from those in the Danish hit, to create humour and synergy with the original song.
TDC said they had been unaware of the BCAP Code and were regretful if the song contained a swear word. They stated that the ad was no longer being broadcast.
Viasat Broadcasting UK Ltd (Viasat) said TDC were a long established company, were Denmark's largest provider of telecommunications and the largest advertiser in Denmark. Because of TDC's past as a publicly owned company, Viasat believed they were very mindful of how their brand was portrayed. They felt TDC would not accept an ad and run it on all Danish commercial channels if they thought it could be seen as offensive to the Danish population.
They provided a translation of the ad and the song it contained. They said the phrase identified by the complainant, "Det idag vi fejrer slverfest, jag er s fucking stolt", translated into English as 'It is today we celebrate our silver anniversary, I'm so damn proud'. Viasat argued that the English word 'fucking' had become part of the Danish language as a slang word, it had lost some of its original English meaning and with it its level of offence, and the pronunciation of it had even changed to 'focking', to sound more Danish. They (as bilingual Danish and English speakers) did not believe 'fucking' was the correct Danish translation of the word in the context of the ad. They said the word was not used in the ad in a negative, offensive or hurtful way, but was intended to emphasize how proud the wife was of her husband, and was more akin to the milder term 'damn'. They continued that the word 'fucking' was used as a Danish word in a Danish sentence in the ad, and should not be seen as having the same meaning or connotations as the word 'fucking' might have in the UK. Although it was a swear word, 'fucking' was used as an expression in both positive and negative situations and they did not believe it would be considered offensive in Denmark, although they appreciated that if the ad had been broadcast to a UK audience, some viewers might have found the word offensive. Viasat believed that, although the Danish population had a good understanding of English, they would associate the word 'fucking' with its mild Danish meaning.
The ASA understood that 'fucking', although a swear word in Danish, was much milder than, and did not have the same offensive connotations as, the word 'fucking' in English. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers in Denmark.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)