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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 10:54 GMT


Warning to advertisers over 'f-word'

The Advertising Standards Authority is urging magazines and poster companies not to run advertisements for a clothing firm, French Connection, which make a play on the "f-word".

The ASA has upheld 26 complaints about the campaign, which uses the slogan "f.c.u.k. advertising". The authority says it has brought advertising into disrepute.

The company says it has registered "fcuk" as the trademark of French Connection UK and claims that means it must be acceptable. It told the authority that it had responded to previous complaints about its posters by putting dots between the initials and separating the words "fcuk" and "advertising" with a picture.

But in its magazine advertisement, which appeared in style titles such as Vogue, Marie Claire and FHM, no alterations were made. The company said it saw no need because these magazines often contained strong language in their editorial features.

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The ASA said without the use of dots, most readers would mistake the advertisers' initials for the f-word - and it considered the campaign brought advertising into disrepute.

It has now urged media companies not to accept the advertisements in future.

ASA spokesman Chris Reed said: "It's very unusual for us to take this action on the grounds of taste and decency. Our research shows 77% of the public do not believe the f-word should be used on advertising. We are sending out a message to advertisers to be careful."

Lilli Anderson, French Connection spokeswoman, criticised the ruling as "undemocratic" and said she thought it would have little impact on their ability to run their next adverts, which were already being placed in magazines for the spring.

"We've sold 85,000 T-shirts with "fcuk fashion" on them. If that many people want to wear it across their T-shirts, to uphold a complaint by 26 people is not very democratic," she said.

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