Now me hearties, here’s one that you will love. Or not as the case may be. Untold has told us all to scout out the strange and bizarre this summer, and here’s my contribution.
An online video ad, has been created for the the Charlton Athletic YouTube channel (do you ever watch anything else?)
It is promoting the hire of Charlton Athletic Football Club’s pitch hire programme, and it does it in the style of candid CCTV footage.
This shows a gent and a lady entering the empty stadium late at night and running onto the pitch. They then appeared to start to have what the newspapers like to call “sex” in the centre circle of the pitch and after a few seconds the stadium floodlights suddenly turned on.
The woman suddenly finds to her amazement that her chest is pixellated. Is it a Martian pixellation ray? She sites up and quickly draws her jacket around her. The camera pulls back to show the stands, which showed the stadium name “The Valley”.
A voice-over then states “Fancy scoring at The Valley in May? Contact the sales team now to book the pitch for your team”.
All well and good? All fun and games?
Well no because someone complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.
The complainant, who believed that the ad was sexist and derogatory towards women, and unsuitable for children to view, challenged whether the ad was:
1. offensive; and
2. harmful and irresponsibly targeted.
Charlton Athletic Football Club (CAFC) in reply stated that their target audience was 20- to 30-year-old males interested in hiring The Valley for their grass roots team during the off season.
They said that, having done an analysis of target audience media and social media channels, they felt that the ad would engage with their very specific target audience.
They stated that they had an ageing demographic within their fan base and needed to connect with a younger audience to ensure the future commercial sustainability of the club.
CAFC said that they did not accept that the marketing activity was sexist or derogatory towards women, and stated that it was not targeted towards children or released onto any children’s platforms. They stated that they used a PR agency to engage target audience media partners such as The Lad Bible and FHM. They said that it was not their intention to cause offence or harm, or to act in an irresponsible manner, and that this had been a purely targeted campaign for a specific audience.
CAFC stated that a small extract of the clip that had been shared on Vine had received over eight million views, and that they had received nine complaints from their season ticket holders.
However, they noted that these complainants had renewed their season tickets despite their complaints and that this indicated they were not offended or harmed.
YouTube stated that the ad did not violate the Community Guidelines applicable to video content uploaded by site members to user channels on their platform and confirmed that they had not received any complaints about the ad directly.
The ASA in reply noted that the ad featured “sexual activity” (which the FA outlawed in 1965), with the implication that the woman was partially dressed, and that the phrase “score at The Valley” referred both to scoring a football goal at CAFC’s ground and a euphemism for “sex”!!!
They were also alarmed that the woman was seen to initiate the break-in to the stadium and was not seen as a passive or unwilling participant, and understood that the euphemism ‘score’ related to sexual success by either gender.
They therefore considered that the woman’s role in the ad was not gratuitous and that she was not objectified.
They even acknowledged that the humour in the ad largely derived from the woman’s unintentional public nudity, but noted that this resulted from her decision to break into the stadium and was likely to be understood as embarrassing rather than derogatory.
Really, they did!
They then concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on the grounds of sexism.
But the ASA considered that because the content of the ad was of a sexual nature it was therefore unsuitable for children and that care should therefore be taken to prevent it from appearing in places where children might view it.
These kids watch stuff all night long under the bedclothes of course, so that is impossible.
But because the ad had appeared on Charlton’s own channel where children might see it we concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) and Charlton were given a rap on the knuckles and told in no uncertain terms.
The ad must not appear again in its current form on the Charlton Athletic Football Club YouTube channel or other untargeted media.
This is a true tale. More true tales anon.