Advertising regulator backs Radio Nova’s “Addicted to Sex on Fire” posters
The poster, which references Kings of Leon’s ubiquitous hit Sex on Fire, was placed on the sides of busses and 48-sheet billboards around Dublin this summer.
Pinpointing the cheeky comic device of the campaign, one of the complainants observed that the words “on fire” appear in a smaller font than “addicted to sex”, arguing that therefore the content of the ad was unsuitable when placed on a billboard located in “close proximity” to a primary school.
The ASAI has rejected the complaints. “The Committee did not consider the content of the advertising was likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm to children, nor was the content likely to frighten or disturb them,” it has adjudicated.
The advertising body also accepted the response of Radio Nova, which said the song, one of the most played tracks on its playlist, was well-known, “mainstream” in fact, having spent a long 42 weeks in the UK chart. (I’ve yet to meet anyone who knows any of the lyrics apart from the “sex on fire” bit.) To the best of their knowledge, the bearded rockers’ crossover hit had never been banned or restricted in any way. “This would suggest that both the authorities and general public felt that the track was acceptable,” it told the ASAI.
“We pointed out that Sex on Fire had been a very well-known song and that it had been number one in 17 countries,” says Kevin Branigan, Radio Nova’s chief executive. “We hadn’t expected any complaints.”
Three other ads in the campaign, designed to showcase the classic rock station’s “seriously addictive” slogan, read “Mark, 27. Addicted to Money by Pink Floyd”, “Ciara, 35. Addicted to Whiskey in the Jar”, and Brian, 41. Addicted to Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones”. The ads, which feature “real” Radio Nova listeners, ran in equal rotation and could be seen with equal frequency throughout the city.
Promising to liaise with its outdoor advertising agency regarding future campaign placements, Radio Nova stressed that it did not choose the particular poster site and were not trying to target schoolchildren. The station, which is celebrating its two-year anniversary, is squarely aimed at 25-44-year-olds – people who are old enough to remember the, gasp, 1990s, or maybe even a time before sex addiction was a thing.