Creative Brand Safety ASA

Estate agent ‘flocked off’ as offensive sheep ad sheared by ASA


By John Glenday | Reporter

April 27, 2022 | 3 min read

An estate agent’s attempt to circumvent advertising rules around the use of expletives has fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).


An estate agent was left feeling sheepish after its ‘offensive’ ad was pulled by the ASA

Lamb and Co Property played on its name for a billboard campaign emblazoned with the image of a sheep alongside the words, ‘What the flock you looking at?,’ gilding the word ‘flock’ for extra emphasis.

The foul-mouthed allusion to a popular swear word sought to catch the attention of passersby, only to catch the eye of the advertising watchdog. It found the ad both ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children’ – contravening the CAP Code.

Lamb & Co had defended its cheeky approach as harmless wordplay, having built its brand reputation around farmyard puns in the locality to connect with potential customers. The business pointed out that the near expletive was used alongside more harmless phrases such as ‘baa-rilliant’ to evidence that its intended approach was positive rather than derogatory in nature.

Dismissing this defense, the ASA noted: “... we considered that many people would understand the word ‘flock’ was used as an alternative to the word ‘fuck,’ and that it alluded to the expression ‘What the fuck you looking at?’ We considered that ‘fuck’ was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether it was used in a playful manner.”

The position of the billboard opposite a retail park led to further censure, with the body observing that the playful depiction of a sheep sticking its tongue out was likely to appeal to the children of families passing by and thus an allusion to the word ‘fuck’ was likely to cause ‘serious offense.’

In consequence, the ad must not be shown again in its present guise.

Use of the word ‘fuck’ has long derailed brands wishing to appear edgy, with BrewDog having previously been banned by the regulator from running ‘Fuck you CO2’ ads.

Creative Brand Safety ASA

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