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'Bloody' is an offensive word, declares ASA

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The Sun newspaper has been ordered not to use the word 'bloody' on posters in future. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was socially irresponsible to use the word in an advert that appeared in a public place.

The advert appeared on the side of a lorry. It stated "Where the bloody hell were you?" against a background of the Union Jack flag. It showed Great Britain's Olympic gold medal tally of 19 compared to Australia's 14.

A person who saw the lorry parked on a bridge on the M4 motorway objected that the language used was offensive in a public place where it could be seen by children.

News Group Newspapers said the ad was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a well-known advert for the Australian Tourist Board. It said it considered the word "bloody" to be "a generally acceptable mild epithet, and not offensive."

The ASA disagreed.

"We acknowledged that The Sun's ad had been prepared in a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek manner, following the UK's recent success at the Olympics, but nevertheless considered that the word 'bloody' was a swear word, albeit a milder one than some others and concluded that it was socially irresponsible to reproduce it in advertising in an untargeted medium to which children could be exposed," it ruled.

The ad was found to be in breach of rules on social responsibility and the protection of children. The ASA told The Sun not to use the word "bloody" on posters in future.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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