Complaints about Carphone ‘pro-choice’ adverts upheld by authority

Words in adverts similar to those used by campaign to repeal Eighth Amendment

All advertisements contained the line: ’The Only Place You Get To Choose Your Network, Phone and Plan. Carphone Warehouse’

All advertisements contained the line: ’The Only Place You Get To Choose Your Network, Phone and Plan. Carphone Warehouse’

 

More than 40 complaints about recent Carphone ‘pro choice’ ads have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI).

The first advertisement featured a denim jacket with a badge reading : “We’re Pro -Choice”. A second featured a baby and asked: “What makes a family? Mum & Mum? Mum & Dad? Dad& Dad?’ with a badge reading ‘We’re Pro-Choice’”.

A third ad featured the head and shoulders of a person with a neutral expression and short hairstyle. It asked: “What Do Yo See? Guy? Girl? Me? A badge read: ‘We’re Pro-Choice”

All advertisements contained the line: “The Only Place You Get To Choose Your Network, Phone and Plan. Carphone Warehouse”.

Most of the complaints were on grounds the wording was similar to that adopted by those involved in the pro-choice campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

In the context the ads were considered by complainants to be “ highly offensive”; that they “trivialised a very sensitive topic” and “lacked a sense of responsibility to society”.

Some also felt using the image of the baby in the second ad compounded their concerns.

A complainant felt the third ad was “extremely offensive to transgender people as well as to lesbian, gay and bisexual people” in that it gave the impression “transgender people ‘choose’ their gender and that such ‘choice’ was frivolous”.

Responding, the advertisers said they neither supported nor promoted abortion; neither had they advocated for the either side in the referendum debate. They said they simply believed in the value and right of choice and that it had never been their intention to cause upset or offence to anybody.

Of the “transgender” ad, the advertisers had hoped the universal answer might have been the person rather than their gender. They categorically denied the advert suggested gender was a choice.

However, upholding the complaints, the ASAI reminded the advertisers ”it was not in compliance with the requirements of the (Advertising) Code to use offensive or provocative copy or images merely to attract attention”.

Public sensitivities “should be taken into account in the preparation of all marketing communications,” the authority said.

Accepting the “transgender” advertisement did not set out to imply people had a choice over gender identity, the authority felt it could be seen in a number of ways and was likely to cause offence .

As the advertisers had undertaken not to use the wording “pro choice” in future marketing material, the authority felt no further action was required. But it advised the “transgender” advertisement should not be used again in its current format.

The authority also upheld a complaint against Transdev, the company that operates the Luas tram service in Dublin. A mother complained that a digital message at the Cherrywood Luas station indicated under-18s travelled free over the August bank holiday weekend.

She dropped off two under-18s there only for them to be fined subsequently by an inspector on the Luas.

The advertiser said the digital message was about the Luas Park and Ride service being free for the weekend.

The ASAI considered it feasible, for a commuter who was not familiar with the Luas Park and Ride facility, to interpret the message that the ride was also free.