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Advertising Council reprimands offensive campaigns

Advertising Council reprimands offensive campaigns

The German Advertising Council received more complaints from the public about advertising last year than in the previous year. Overall, it decided on 269 advertising activities that citizens objected to.

The panel found deficiencies in 82 of these campaigns. This corresponds to an increase of 18 percent compared to 2006. In three cases there were public reprimands because the companies did not comply with the advertising council’s requests to correct the advertising. All three complaints made last year concerned allegations of discrimination against women. “Women are not only a popular advertising motif because of their attractiveness, they are also an important customer group,” explains Volker Nickel, spokesman for the German Advertising Council.

“Now women have fought for their rights in society and their portrayal in advertising is a very sensitive issue,” notes Nickel. Around 33 percent of the complaints received by the Advertising Council in 2007 were based on such allegations. “The number of complaints about degrading advertising with women has continued to decrease compared to previous years,” says Nickel. Two developments are responsible for this. Firstly, the sensitivity in the German economy with regard to such topics is very high. Second, women’s self-confidence is growing.

Although Germany can be described as a liberal society, advertising must be careful not to exceed certain limits, warns Nickel. “However, a clear definition of this limit is not possible,” says the expert. For example, the appearance of bare skin is not yet a decisive criterion for criticism. “It is essential in this context that discriminatory elements are contained in the advertising,” adds Nickel. However, a general assessment is not possible. Whether an advertising measure is unacceptable must be decided separately in each individual case. “The important criterion here is human dignity, which must not be disregarded under any circumstances,” Nickel clarifies.

In 187 of the 269 complaints submitted by citizens, however, the advertising council dismissed the criticism as unfounded. According to the panel, these are mainly derived from exaggerated, too extreme views of the complainants. According to Nickel, most of the campaigns objected to by the Advertising Council were advertising used by smaller companies with a more local significance. -pte/photo: pixelio