This information provides a general overview of Board determinations on complaints about sex, sexuality and nudity.

It is designed to assist the advertising industry, the self-regulatory body, consumers and others interested in ensuring that advertising does not breach the AANA Code of Ethics or community standards in relation to matters of sex, sexuality and nudity.

It is not a “how-to” guide, nor does it cover all situations which require care in understanding elements of sex, sexuality and nudity.

Relevant section of the AANA Code of Ethics:

2.4 Advertising or Marketing Communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience.

Definitions

Prevailing Community Standards means the community standards determined by the Advertising Standards Board as those prevailing at the relevant time in relation to Advertising or Marketing Communications.

Relevant audience is informed by the media placement plan and content of the advertising or marketing communication. It requires the Board to examine the media plan (formal or informal). It is the audience that the advertiser intends to see the advertising or marketing communication. The Board shall have regard to the audience or readership composition data for the relevant media. For example, OzTAM data can be used to inform the Board that the relevant audience for commercial free to air and subscription television is grocery buyers between the ages of 20 and 35. In the case of social media, the Board should have regard to the opt-in nature of the medium and the age-gating which may apply to some social media sites in determining the relevant audience.

Broad view of “audience” taken by the Board. For the purposes of advertisements in public places, the Board will not only take account of the relevant audience, but it can also take a broad view of the “audience”. This recognises the broad nature of the audience for advertisements in public places. The Board will not just have regard to whom the advertisement is targeted (the relevant audience) but also looks at who can see it and will take that into consideration in determining their view of whether the advertisement treats sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to that audience.

Level of community concern

Community concern about the portrayal of sex, sexuality and nudity in advertising has been reflected in complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Community activity and political sensitivity about portrayals of sex, sexuality and nudity in advertising was of particular concern to respondents to the ASB’s 2010 community research on this topic.

A high level of community concern can be seen in the consistently high number of complaints that raise concerns in this area. In 2015 sex, sexuality and nudity was the most complained about issue accounting for 27.32 per cent of complaints received by the Advertising Standards Bureau.

 

See also Sex, Sexuality and Nudity: determination summary