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DIRECT MARKETING NEWS: 'Offensive' DM under fire from ASA

A direct mailing from The Fuel Agency has come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority for being likely to cause serious offence.

The mailing, sent to 1000 recipients from a purchased mailing list, took the form of a Valentine's card. Text on the front of the card stated: "I F**CKING LOVE YOU". Text on an adjacent page stated " ... You might f**cking love us".

Two people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the language used was offensive, however The Fuel Agency said no expletive was used in the direct mail, adding that they believed it was commonly understood that to communicate an expletive without causing offence, it was acceptable to use the widespread format "f**k".

The ASA upheld the complaint, saying although the expletive in the ad was partly obscured it considered the intended meaning was still clear.

It judged the expletive gratuitous in the context of an ad about marketing services and "irrelevant to the product". It concluded that the ad was "likely to cause serious offence to some recipients."

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and it told The Fual Agency to take care to avoid causing serious or widespread offence in future.