LONDON — Britain’s advertising regulator has banned five adverts for Tesco’s mobile phone business, saying its use of the words “shiitake” and “pistachio” alluded to swearing and was offensive.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday that three of the adverts had also been banned because they could not be displayed where they could be seen by children.
The watchdog said a full-page advert for Tesco Mobile in the Daily Express and the Daily Mail featured text reading: ‘What a load of shiitake’ in large text, followed by an image of a mushroom. Below, the text read: “Major mobile networks are increasing your bills again. Join us for prices that remain fixed.
He said another ad in the same newspapers featured text that read, “They’re taking the pistachio” in large text, followed by a picture of a walnut.
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The ASA said a digital outdoor poster read “For F”, followed by three images of pasta and the text “sake”. The three images of pasta then rolled up to reveal the text “For the love of fettuccine”.
A paid Twitter post and another digital poster contained similar messages.
The ASA concluded that the swearing reference was likely to cause a serious and widespread offence. He ruled that the advertisements should no longer appear in the form in which they had been complained about.
Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, said it prepared the adverts with consumers in mind who faced a price hike and thought they were unlikely to be offensive.