Crisp makers rapped for racy rugby ads

A food firm accused of using sexist ads to promote its crisps has been banned from using the controversial posters of scantily clad models, it was revealed today.

Largo Foods, which makes Hunky Dorys, was told by the advertising watchdog to permanently remove ads of women rugby players in striking playing poses.

More than 300 people complained that the posters, which had been on roadside billboards and in newspapers before being pulled, were tasteless, offensive and degrading to women.

One poster featured an attractive model in a low-cut sports top and a strapline which read: “Are you staring at my crisps?”

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), ruled the images had caused extensive public concern and ordered Largo not to publish them again and to permanently remove them from the company website.

The watchdog said scores of individuals and groups found the ads unacceptable on a variety of grounds including exploitation of sexuality and use of provocative images to attract attention.

Some complainants claimed women were being used as sex objects while others considered the campaign “demeaning to women who like to participate in sports and insulting to their integrity”.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland branded the campaign: “Cynical and unhelpful in terms of building a society that is free from sexual abuse and violence.”

All posters also featured the strapline: “Proud sponsors of Irish rugby”. But the Irish Rugby Football Union distanced themselves from the ads when criticisms were first made.

In its defence Largo claimed the ads had got unprecedented support throughout the country.

“It was a simple, entertaining campaign with a timely, sporting angle that sought to appeal to all elements of society,” it said.

“It was photographed by Walter Iooss, a world renowned and respected sports photographer who had worked for many years for Sports Illustrated.

Largo, which voluntarily pulled the ads when first criticised, also said the Hunky Dorys campaign was good natured and funny, presenting women in a sporting role. It said it had never been the intention to offend.

It said it was difficult to grasp how the ads would encourage dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices, or provoke violence and anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile, 20 complaints against telecoms giant Eircom from people concerned about animal welfare were dismissed.

The complainants raised concerns about a radio ad which featured a conversation between Jim from Eircom support and a customer whose children were studying for exams and his worries that their education was expensive and maybe the family dog would have “to go”.

Complainants claimed it was irresponsible and in bad taste because many dogs were being abandoned in the recession and the ad encouraged people to ditch their pet to pay for Eircom services.

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