An ad giving Daily Star readers the chance to win a date with a page three model has been banned for being sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible.
The website ad was headed “Win a date with a Daily Star Page 3 babe! It’s a cold miserable winter out there – but as ever your fun-loving Daily Star knows just how to brighten up your lives.”
Three photographs showed three models with the caption: “Win: Enter the competition to have a chance of spending a day with a page 3 babe,” “Date: The girls are desperate to meet you,” and “Irresistible: Who could turn down the chance to meet one of our babes.”
Further text read: “We’ll fix it for two of our top Page 3 girls to visit your workplace on a date of your choice so you can get to know them – and find out just why we are so proud to publish their pictures every day.
“Just think how chuffed your workmates will be to learn you have bagged them this prize, and how jealous your other friends will be.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received 31 complaints, including one from the campaign group Object, that the prize was sexist and objectified women, and therefore offensive and socially irresponsible.
Express Newspapers, trading as the Daily Star, said their female editor prided herself on their “Star Babes” being portrayed as “three-dimensional women” and provided copies of four articles published in the paper to illustrate their point.
One article gave brief details of the careers of models who were the wives or girlfriends of England footballers and provided advice on how to become a “Star Babe”, two were photo-diary style features about page three shoots in Portugal and one featured five women posing in the same see-through dress and giving their opinions of it.
The paper said its readership was 66% men with an average age of 48 years while 78% of its website users were male and 71% were under the age of 45, adding that while some people might find the competition distasteful or offensive, they believed readers of their paper and users of their website would not.
The ASA noted that the ad referred to the Star Babes as a “sizzling prize” and suggested that their visit to the winner’s workplace would bring the approval of their colleagues for “bagging them this prize”.
It said: “In the context of a competition in which the prize involved a visit from page three glamour models, a job which was based on a woman’s attractiveness and in which women posed nude or semi-nude and which therefore inherently involved the objectification of their bodies, we considered the implication was that the prize would be enjoyed or envied on the basis of the women’s attractiveness rather than because of their personality or other non-physical qualities.
“We also noted that the competition prize was described as involving a visit from ’one of our babes’ and ’two of our top Page 3 girls’ rather than from specific individuals.
“We considered the implication was therefore that it did not matter which individual models would be visiting the winner and that the women were presented as interchangeable.
“In that context, whilst we noted the ads were targeted at Daily Star readers and website users, many of whom would likely have no objection to page three itself, we considered it likely that some would nonetheless find the notion of offering women as a prize to be sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible.”
It ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: “We told the Daily Star to ensure that their future advertising contained nothing that was socially irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”
In November the ASA banned an ad for The Sun newspaper’s Dream Team fantasy football competition for offering the “sexist and offensive” prize of a date with a page three girl.