Complaints were raised to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over ads used by Lewis Oliver Estates earlier this year, which featured a cropped image of a male model’s torso and thighs, with the text “WOW! WHAT A PACKAGE”. A roundel containing the text “Fully managed letting service” was placed over the model’s crotch.
The firm defended the ad – which ran on both posters and leaflets – saying that it was “light-hearted fun” and not meant to offend. It also argued that other companies had used bikini models for their advertising.
However, the ASA was not amused, stating that the ad bore no relation to the package being advertised, and noting that the combination of the picture and text was “a clear reference to male genitalia”.
It concluded: “We considered that the ad was likely to have the effect of objectifying the man by using his physical features to draw attention to an unrelated product. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people.”
Lewis Oliver has been told that the ads must not appear again, and that they must ensure future ads do not portray men in a way that objectifies them or which is likely to cause offence.