The Problem With The Directgov "This Is Abuse" Campaign Update

First; VAWG Campaigns haven't responded to my email and it's been nearly two weeks. They seem to be a bust.

I received a letter from the Advertising Standards Authority this morning, and it began quite promisingly. They explained they could intervene if an advertisement was likely to "pose a realistic risk of harm". I'd say that PTSD flashbacks are pretty harmful and it DOES cause these. They had received "a number of complaints" and ASA referred the complaints to the ASA Council for assessment.


The campaign is back. Hit ASA with complaints again. It took only 160 odd complaints for them to investigate the sexist ASDA Christmas ads. We can get them to do the same for This Is Abuse, and do it properly (see below response) or at least get them to change their guidelines so that adverts have the same ones as TV programmes and movies.

[UPDATE 2; ASA are no good, contact CAP]

This is where it started going downhill. They decided not to intervene because they don't intervene "where advertising is simply criticised for being in poor taste." Poor taste? Considering that they list complaints about the graphic nature and the lack of a prior warning I don't think these count as "poor taste" complaints.

The letter goes on to say that "the importance of the message being raised was likely to be seen as outweighing any distress caused. It was therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or undue distress to viewers."

The fact that it HAS caused undue distress has completely passed the ASA Council by. I wasn't complaining about the content, as such, but the need for a warning. I, personally, don't believe in censorship of entertainment at all. I think that we should be free to make what we want and view what we want. All I ask is to be made sufficiently aware of the content of what I want to view.

Unfortunately, so the letter states, "there is no requirement in the BCAP [Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice] to provide warnings prior to ads." Perhaps that is something they should look towards changing?

The letter goes on to discuss children seeing the ad. This was not part of my personal complaint (as someone whose first movie memory is of watching Predator with my younger sister I can't really complain) so I'll ignore that.

While ASA will not intervene they have passed the issues raised on to VAWG Campaigns and Directgov (well, they say "the advertisers") and are very sorry for any upset that it has caused. They have received no complaints about the ad being shown in cinemas yet, but if they did, they say, depending on the film it was shown during, they would be unlikely to intervene for the same reasons as they have not done so for the TV ad.

So, now what? I am considering writing back to explain in greater depth what the problem is, i.e. about PTSD, that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men will experience serious sexual abuse at least once in their life time in the UK (making the numbers this ad might affect quite large). Will my efforts just be fobbed off? I'm also going to write to VAWG again. What other course of action is there? The campaigns time is nearly over, as the February briefing says it is only running until the end of April.
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