In February this year the ASA had a whinge about a long running Sofa King catchphrase:
The Sofa King -- Where the prices are Sofa King Low.
But Mark Kypta, who has run Sofa King and used the slogan for 10 years, argued the decision was not consistent with similar cases, including the ASA's rejection of 52 complaints against Burger King advertisements in 2010.
In 2010, 52 complaints were made against a Burger King advertising campaign that used phrases such as king tasty , king delicious and no king parking . The ASA allowed the advertisements, stating they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence
because they did not contain any explicit bad language.
And so Kypta said he had appealed against the ASA decision.
Then last week the ASA amended the wording to their Sofa King decision (without changing the overall decision that somehow the pun is likely to cause 'widespread offence').
The ASA noted that they had changed the wording but they seem secretive as to why. No mention of it being as a result of an appeal judgement, but surely it was.
It seems a very poor show that censorship imposed on the public should be subject to secretive judgments, but there you go. The system was set up for industry self censorship but has not been adapted when it was imposed on websites that have nothing to
do with advertising industry.
Anyway the appeal process adjudicated by Hayden Philips, the Independent Reviewer, ended up with the ASA wording for the Sofa King advert being changed as follows:
Original decision in February 2012:
The ASA noted that the phrase ... Sofa King Low! used the advertiser's company name but considered that it could be interpreted as a derivative of the swear word fuck , which consumer research had found to be a word so likely to offend
that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product. Because of that, we concluded that the slogan was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that the ad breached the CAP Code.
Revised decision in June 2012:
The ASA noted that the phrase ... Sofa King Low used the advertiser's company name but considered that, when spoken and heard, it sounded like a derivative of the swear word fuck . Because of that, we concluded that the slogan was
likely to cause serious or widespread offence and that the ad breached the CAP Code.
The main change seems to be that the ASA removed their claims about 'consumer research'.
I wonder if the ASA themselves have been hypercritically hauled up for unsubstantiated claims?