For Goodness Shakes ‘allusion to masturbation’ advert banned by British ASA.

‘Video was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Sligo News File Online

Notice.
The following ruling by the British Advertising Standards Authority was made in November 2013. This was approximately seventeen months before the company, My Goodness Limited, the subject of the referenced complaint, was acquired by Aurivo Co-operative Society, Tubbercurry, in March 2015.

Statement as published by the British Advertising Standards Authority.

ASA Ruling on My Goodness Ltd
My Goodness Ltd
Unit 4
55 Bendon Valley
London
SW18 4LZ

Date:
20 November 2013

Media:
Internet (video)

Sector:
Health and beauty

Number of complaints:
1

Agency:
Quiet Storm Ltd

Complaint Ref:
A13-240754

Ad

A video embedded in an e-mail promoting a sports supplement drink ASAincluded text above the video that stated “FOR GOODNESS SHAKES! WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?” with further text that overlaid the video stating “PRESS PLAY TO FIND OUT…”. Upon clicking on the play button, the ad linked to the advertiser’s own website, which featured a video that auto played. Text above the video stated “CHECK OUT OUR NEW ONLINE AD FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF FOR GOODNESS SHAKES FOR YOU AND YOUR MATES … We’re giving you the chance to WIN a year’s supply of For Goodness Shakes for you and five mates! All you have to do is watch the video below and click on the link at the bottom to share it with your mates” The video featured men in a range of public settings, with only their heads and upper torsos visible. In each instance they appeared to be holding something by their groin and their bodies were shaking with exertion. The final scene featured a man standing behind a woman in a lift. His body stopped shaking abruptly when he appeared to notice that something had landed on the woman’s back. He attempted to brush it off the woman before she stepped out of the lift, at which point it was revealed that he had been shaking a protein shake. The video closed with an image of the pre-mixed protein shake in a bottle, and text that stated “WE SHAKE FOR YOU … THE PROTEIN SHAKE WITHOUT THE SHAKER”.

Issue
The complainant challenged whether the video was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because of its implied references to masturbating in public. CAP Code (Edition 12) 4.1

Response
My Goodness Ltd (My Goodness) said protein powders required vigorous and constant shaking to turn them into smooth shakes and their audience of young sports men were self-conscious about using protein shakers in public. They said the video was a humorous take on the real-life scenarios played out every day by using protein shakers and that the video used the risqué ‘it isn’t what you think it is’ comedy technique to highlight the awkwardness of shaking a shaker in public. They said the whistling soundtrack alerted viewers to the light-hearted comedy nature of the video from the start and that the final scene concluded the “is or isn’t it” guessing game by revealing that all the actors had been shaking a protein shaker. They said the situations portrayed were inspired by real-life situations of gym-goers and sportsmen shaking their shakers in public and that the video correctly depicted the most common way protein shakers were shaken ‒ at arm’s length, side to side and between the groin and waist. They said the video was shot with men actually shaking protein shakes and that the soundtrack used was recorded using a filled protein shaker. They believed that the scenes were all relevant to the product and context.

They said their target demographic for the ad was sports-interested adult males who would be able to relate to the embarrassing scenes depicted in the video and stated that the distribution schedule for the video had reflected this. They said the video was hosted on YouTube and was seeded to target specialist online communities such as sports clubs, communities and magazines, current affairs bloggers, male interest magazines and student communities. The video was also e-mailed to My Goodness’ database of registered protein & protein recovery shake customers who opted in to receive company e-mails. They provided information relating to which online channels and communities they targeted, and details of the demographic profile of their e-mail database. They stated that the video had not been advertised using general broadcast media so it was unlikely to have been seen outside the target market.
They said there were no explicit scenes shown in the video and the video was not intended to be offensive, shocking, sexually explicit or harmful. They believed that prevailing standards of mainstream, primetime TV comedy allowed young adults to view sexually explicit scenes and that, in comparison with these, the cheeky nature of the ad was relatively mild and tame. They understood the ad contained comedy which some may find distasteful, but did not consider it to be in breach of the Code.

Assessment
Upheld

The ASA considered that, although there was no explicit sexual content in the video, adults would interpret the men’s activities as an allusion to masturbation. We noted that the final scene, which featured a man standing behind a woman in a lift, would be understood by adult viewers as indicating that the man had ejaculated onto the woman’s back, before it was revealed that he had been shaking a protein shake.

We acknowledged that the demographic profile of My Goodness’ e-mail database meant that the e-mail containing the video was likely to have been seen mainly by their target audience of young, sports-interested adult men and we considered that the video was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence amongst that audience. However, we considered that many of the other online channels that hosted the video, such as a news and entertainment website, were likely to appeal to a wider audience who would find the references to public masturbation, and particularly to ejaculating on another person, offensive.

We concluded that, in the context of marketing for a sports supplement drink and in light of the fact that the ad was likely to be seen by a varied audience, the video was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).

Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told My Goodness to ensure their future advertising contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The ruling of the BASA is dated 20 November 2013.