Mobile phone giant Vodafone was today reprimanded in Britain for the sexual content of its advertisements which encourage flirting through text messages.
Two print media advertisements, which featured semi-naked couples in a passionate embrace, were criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for being “explicit and gratuitous”.
A similar ad was also banned from early evening TV because it was deemed unsuitable for children.
One of the print advertisements showed a partially-clothed woman pressed against the wall of a stairwell with one leg over the shoulder of a man who was kneeling between her legs.
The other featured a couple, also semi-undressed, on the bonnet of a car with the woman straddling the man.
Both were accompanied by the caption: “Get the flirting over with before you get home. Text.”
They appeared in The Guardian newspaper’s The Guide supplement, The Times’s Play Magazine and Time Out magazine.
Vodafone said the advertisements featured couples who had met at home or on the way home after sending and receiving text messages used as a prelude to making love.
The company said research had found a large number of young people used text messages in that way to enhance their love lives.
It believed the advertisements reflected the real mobile behaviour of their target audience of younger people and were placed in magazines read by that audience.
But the ASA upheld the complaints, concluding that the images would be seen as “explicit and gratuitous”.
The authority added that the advertisements were “likely to cause serious or widespread offence” and asked the advertisers not to repeat a similar approach in the future.
Meanwhile TV regulator the Independent Television Commission said the small-screen version of the ad was “sexually charged” and breached rules for being aired when youngsters were watching.
The commercial featured couples sending text messages before meeting up for passionate clinches.
A total of 87 viewers complained that the ad was unsuitable when children might be watching, while some thought it should not be shown at all.
The ITC said: “Although the couples were dressed, the tone of the commercial was sexually charged and it was clear what the passionate kissing, embracing and rolling on the dining table was leading to.”