The UK’s advertising watchdog has banned a StarWins.com television commercial for confusing sexy with sexist.
On Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered Bear Group Ltd aka Daily Star Wins not to re-air an ad that appeared on UK TV in January. The ad resulted in complaints that the ad was sexist and objectified women, while the ASA felt the ad breached rules on linking gambling with sexual success.
The ad (behind the scenes footage viewable here) featured a pair of average joes at a pub, where no one except the guy behind the bar pays them much attention. The men then enter a virtual casino largely populated by female croupiers and cabaret dancers.
The men are seen exchanging sly glances with some of the dancers, then the action transitions to the gaming table, where more sexually charged eye footsy takes place. The ad culminates in the two men celebrating by throwing chips in the air, surrounded by the women, before the two men are shown back at the pub, still celebrating.
The visuals were accompanied by voice-overs claiming that “for you card sharks, we’ve got real female croupiers who can handle that,” while the chip-throwing celebration was immediately preceded by the claim that “you’ll be surprised where it can take you.”
Daily Star Wins argued that the two men were ordinary blokes in ordinary clothes, a deliberate creative decision to avoid glamorizing gambling. The company also rejected the notion that the ad objectified women, claiming that the women were in a position of authority over the men. The fact that the men ended up back in the pub also suggested that they’d failed to achieve any sexual success.
The ASA wasn’t buying it, ruling that the “intense” looks between the men and the dealers “suggested they were appraising each other physically.” The ASA also found that the ad “put particular visual emphasis” on both the number of women in the casino and their physical attractiveness to the two men.
The ASA noted that the commercial depicted a crowd of (mainly) women gathering around the men as their winning and celebrating increased, which suggested that their success “had gained them recognition and admiration, and made them more popular and attractive to women.”
The ASA ordered Daily Star Wins to ensure that future ads “did not cause serious or widespread offence” through the depiction or objectification of women, and to avoid suggesting that gambling can “enhance personal qualities, or link gambling to seduction or enhanced attractiveness.”