“Peel the top off a hottie”, complete with pot noodle lid boobs. I was greeted by this display (alternative title: “sexual harassment is HOT”) at Piccadilly Gardens where several women (presumably the “hotties”) were handing out free pot noodle samples. Turns out this is the current Pot Noodle advertising campaign, which is also paraded round their Facebook page.
In addition to filing a complaint with the Advertising Standard Authority (breach of item 4.1 – offence on grounds of gender – and 4.4 – condoning violent behaviour – of the Advertising Code, or CAP code), I also emailed Manchester City Council and asked them to enforce stricter rules for promotional stalls in public spaces. Given that the ASA recently ruled that one of the “Pussy drink” ads was in breach of the CAP Code, I very much hope that this one gets banned, too. We really don’t need any more objectification of women (“a hottie”), incitement of non-consensual sexual activities, and reinforcement of “lad culture”. Especially not from a bloody pot noodle.
I just received an email from Councillors Suzanne Richards and Rosa Battle who kindly looked into this. It seems the advertiser didn’t provide enough information about the stall for anyone to flag this as an issue (if I were trying to promote a product using this kind of imagery I’d probably keep it quiet as well…), but they stated
“I think we are all in agreement that this type of material is unacceptable and should not be promoted in our City.”
and are planning to do “more stringent checks” in the future. Awesome. I really appreciate the council’s quick reply and their clear position on this kind of advertising. Now waiting for further information from the ASA…