Another Victory Against Explicit Billboards


Last week, The Grand strip joint was told to remove a sexually explicit billboard that already had been ruled against in a previous Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decision.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the ASA stated: "From the material at hand, it appears that the respondent has simply relocated the billboard but has not removed it from public view as instructed by the directorate on August 18, 2009."

What is also of particular concern is that The Grand was getting ready to air adverts on the proposed DSTV porn channel. According to the news report, "The content of the advert was allegedly meant to form part of a movie clip to be flighted on a local pornographic channel - but this did not happen, which is why it has been used as an advert."

The complainant, Ms De Souza reminded the ASA that the video advert "is located on a busy road, which means that families and children are exposed to it. The content is overtly and inappropriately sexual."

Members of the public have won several victories against sexually explicit billboards in recent years. This shows that vigilant action can help keep sexually explicit material out of the public domain.

Christians have previously won victories against a Sexpo billboard in Durban and several strip joint billboards in Gauteng. The ASA is paid by the advertisers and often rules in favour of them, yet we should be encouraged by the victories won by the pressure placed on them.

In 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the offensive Sexpo adverts placed around Durban had to be removed as the advert "reinforces a stereotype that women, especially provocatively dressed women, primarily serve as 'eye-candy' and should only be regarded as valuable for their sexual potential" and that "the only area of her body focussed on effectively reduces her to a sexual object."

Tips for Complaining Against Offensive Advertising

Complain to the Advertising Standards Authority if you see any advert on TV or in print or on a billboard that transgresses the bounds of sexual morality, uses under 18s or people portrayed as under 18 (for example, wearing a school uniform) in sexually suggestive ways or demeans women. Key clauses in the Advertisers � Code to mention are:

  • Clause 1.2 of Section 1 - Responsibility to the consumer
  • Clause 1 of Section 2 - Offensive advertising
  • Clause 3.5 of Section 2 - States that gender stereotyping or negative portrayal is not permitted unless reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society.
  • Clause 14 of Section 2 - Children
  • Section 4.19 of Section1 defines gender stereotyping as � advertising that portrays a person or persons of a certain gender in a manner that exploits, objectifies or demeans.

The Advertisers' Code of Practice can be viewed at: . Send your complaints to:The Advertising Standards Authority: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or fax: 011-781 1616. Please include your name, ID number and contact details.

In a 2004 judgement, the ASA ruled that, "In the context of the abuse of women, it is imperative that advertisers are sensitive to this reality and do not find themselves as promoting that a woman's body is a playground." In another important judgement, they ruled that "where a woman's breasts were compared to an edible object, namely fried eggs, the image of two fried eggs on the bikini top suggested that women's breasts are food. Women and food are thus consumable objects. In this manner the billboard objectified and exploited the female body."

Christians were able to get a billboard removed depicting a coconut that resembled a woman's thighs and pelvic area. The ASA ruled that, "the focus of the advert is on an object very closely resembling a woman's genital area "and disembodies the woman to only represent her groin area. In effect, the image communicates that the only part of a woman that is of relevance is her genitals."

Another victory was won against an offensive billboard showing a half-naked woman performing a lap dance. In it's ruling the ASA said the billboard depicted "activities reserved for adults only" and that it is situated on a busy public road.

These judgements reveal that the most successful complaints are those that have been regarding images depicting disembodied women's body parts, a focus on the genitals or objects resembling a woman's genitals and where a woman is depicted as a consumable object such as food. Complaints against obvious depictions of sexually orientated activities (such as lap dancing) are also often ruled in favour of the complainant.

We need to keep speaking up for family values and complaining against offensive adverts even if the ASA repeatedly rules in favour of the advertisers. If the ASA receives hundreds of complaints every month, they will start taking notice. In fact, the ASA and Film and Publications Board use the complaints they receive as a barometre of "community standards". Through persistent prayer and pressure we can make a difference.

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: 'In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?'" Luke 18:1-8

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
7735, Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481 
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