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The channel – it's all breasts, gay men and dodgy ads

Advertising watchdog kept busy by IT marketing campaigns

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Reseller Ciscom managed to daub itself all over a woman's breasts without the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) batting an eyelid this month. The ASA had received objections over the Middlesex reseller's advert which asked: "Need Support?", and showed a woman wearing only a bra top bearing the words "CIS" and "COM" on each breast. The ASA deigned the ad inoffensive, despite a complaint that it was sexist, and let the matter pass. It had a similar reaction to a Procase advert, which was said to have showed two overtly camp cartoon characters stating "Vote Gay". One was annoying a policeman and the other attracting attention from children in a school-yard. Procase stated: "Our friends in the labour 'camp' have a disconcerting habit of always trying to bring things down. "Like standards of living, quality of life and now the age of consent. Frankly, if we ran a business like this, we'd find ourselves in queer street." We found out this afternoon that Procase has in fact ceased trading, but surely business must have been booming at Procase if it could afford to upset that section of IT-buying public that didn't see eye-to-eye with its outlook on life. But then again, perhaps not. The ASA decided not to uphold the compliant that the advert was homophobic. However, it did deem it likely to discredit the Labour party. But Lady Luck was not smiling so charitably on Type Technologies. The London company was late delivering its computer products after promising same-day London despatch. It pleaded that it had run out of stock before the order that sparked the complaint. But it was upheld by the ASA. Obviously, it should have painted the claim over a pert chest to avoid the ASA's wrist-slapping. Computer Warehouse was also in trouble after an advert specifically stated: "New 400MHz Powerbook... IN STOCK NOW". When the complainant tried to order the product, they were told it was not available. The ASA warned Computer Warehouse to avoid using claims such as "in stock now" in future, unless they already had stocks of the advertised kit. Personal Computer Science was told off for an advert offering a free printer and scanner with one of its PCs. The complainant was told the product was not available and was offered a more expensive alternative. The complaint was upheld. Telecomms companies also came in for a roasting. Vodafone was told to remove its claim of "no contract" on its Pay as you Talk mobile phone package advert. The ASA said the service rules qualified as a contract. And the prize for this month's most disobedient company must go to the Docklands Telecom Centre. It advertised a mobile phone offer in the national press, claiming: "Everything free with Orange", with the "All Free" label slapped across the handset. Yet the complainant was charged £19.99 for the phone on his first bill. And a promised £50 accessory voucher later turned out to be conditional on the user first spending £100. The ASA said the company had failed to respond to its enquiries and said it was concerned by its lack of co-operation and apparent disregard for the codes of practice. ®

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