Virgins not everyone's cup of tea but ad watchdog doesn't bite

By By Amy Kellow | 5 March 2013
Lipton's new Virgin Cocktails campaign was complained about by a consumer who believed it "sexualised" young women. Image Source: The brand's television commercial by DDB Sydney.

The use of 'virgins' and 'tight asses' in advertising does not sit well with consumers, according to the latest round of watchdog cases.

Campaigns from Lipton and Civic Video were both complained about to the Advertising Standards Bureau, ruffling feathers for their respective offences of "sexualising children" and using "crass" language.

Unilever-owned drink brand Lipton came under fire for a campaign for its new alcohol-free Virgin Cocktails products. One of its elements was a billboard showing a young woman riding a bike, accompanied by the product name and the slogan "Enjoy Irresponsibly". The broader push was launched in January with a commercial created by DDB Sydney.

One consumer told the ASB the ad "exploited and sexualised young females" due its use of the word "virgin". They also argued it parodied anti-binge drinking campaigns by telling users to "enjoy irresponsibly" and was thus a hazard to healthy and safety standards.

Lipton refuted the complaint arguing that "virgin" was not a sexualised term and it was widely understood in society to refer to "unmixed" substances. The company also made reference to Richard Branson's Virgin empire such as Virgin Money and Mobile to demonstrate its belief that the term didn't carry such connotations.

It also argued the slogan didn't mock anti-drinking campaigns and that it prided itself on offering consumers "a safe and suitable alternative to alcohol".

The watchdog dismissed the complaint.

Civic Video's long-running Tuesday deal, 'Tight Ass Tuesday' was the next case before the beak. The execution appeared on the window of one of the company's Sydney stores.

The complainant argued the language was "crass" and that they were sick with the level of such prose used in modern advertising. They also said it did "nothing" to help sell a brands' products.

"Don't the advertisers realize yet that crass advertising does little or nothing to help sell their products?" they said. "It may well act in reverse on them - such would be my own suggestion in terms of what it achieves in the end."

Civic Video responded that the word was "a widely accepted use of slang" and it hadn't been constructed to cause offence.

The ASB ruled that the campaign didn't feature any language which could be considered "inappropriate, strong or obscene" and dismissed the complaint.

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