An ad that read “Dawn French is a huge pussy” – the title of her live show – was cleared by the advertising watchdog after complaints that he was offensive.
The advert for the actor and comedian’s upcoming UK tour, which appeared in Sunday Times Culture magazine on December 4, also included a photo in French and text that read: ‘Back due to phenomenal demand’ . Two people complained that it was likely to cause a serious or widespread offence.
Promotions company Phil McIntyre Live said it was unfortunate the adverts offended the two people who complained, but the show’s title was humorous and intended to offend French herself.
The company said it would not advertise the show’s title in media or places that would not allow it to use it in full or require it to erase certain letters. He further explained that the term in question was one that was used by many people, including French people, in their daily lives.
The Sunday Times had said it had no comment and would await the outcome of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigation, but confirmed it had not received any complaints about the advert .
The ASA noted that the advert had appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine and rated it based on its likely audience in that medium. The watchdog said the word “twat” had the potential to offend audiences, but acknowledged it was in the title of French’s live tour.
The ASA said: “We considered that most readers would probably know who Dawn French was and his comedy style, and that the use of the word would be understood by readers as self-mockery and irony, and that it was not, for example, used in a sexual context.
“We understood that the word ‘twat’ written in full was in line with the editorial style of The Sunday Times and that the word reflected similar use of language in editorial sections of the paper where the word was used in full, without any asterisks.
“In light of the foregoing, we therefore concluded that while some readers may have found the ad distasteful, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offense to its audience, and concluded that it does not had not violated the code.”
The ASA determined that no further action was necessary.