Vid GiffGaff has been admonished by the UK's advertising watchdog, after a publicity stunt backfired for being too fruity.
The mobile network posted a video on Twitter that read: "The situations in our new videos are, well, awkward." The tweet also carried the NSFW (not safe for work) hashtag.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled in favour of a complainant who griped that the content in the vid was sexually graphic and "likely to cause serious or widespread offence".
GiffGaff's ad carried text under the video that said: "Out for a run – At home with your parents you're not the boss ... Dean returns hot and sweaty from a run and gets an eye full."
A supposedly jokey warning flashed up on the ad saying "you cannot unsee this."
The ASA explained what viewers were subjected to:
The video showed the interior of a house and a man entering wearing earphones and dressed in a damp T-shirt, which he removed. He pushed open a door, revealing a couple having sex in a laundry room. The video cut back to the man's reaction, and then again to the couple, before showing the man walking away looking dazed. The video then cut to a blank screen, on which text stated "At home with your parents you're not the boss ... At GiffGaff we're all the boss". During the video panting sounds could be heard, which continued over the blank screen section.
GiffGaff's ad strategy appears to be an attempt at shocking viewers of its YouTube channel. Another cringeworthy example, which hasn't been banned, can be seen below. The main problem, in The Register's networks desk's view, has nothing to do with the sexual content. Instead, it's simply not funny.
GiffGaff defended its ad by claiming that the mobile network was trying to inject some humour into the situation where grown-ups still live with their parents.
The ASA said:
Although we acknowledged GiffGaff's assertion that the ad was intended to be playful and humorous, we considered that a light-hearted tone was insufficient to mitigate the potential for offence due to the sexual nature of the content. We noted that the ad was available to view to all visitors to GiffGaff's Twitter feed, the general content of which appeared to be of a mild nature that would have general appeal to consumers, and would play whether or not they were signed in to Twitter or the site hosting the video itself.
It added: "Because the video featured strongly sexual content in an untargeted medium we concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence."
GiffGaff was told that the ad must not appear again in its current form. ®