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ASA clears Samsung’s controversial solo female jogger ad

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

July 19, 2022 | 4 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared a Samsung ad that was under investigation due to its depiction of a woman running alone at night.

The ad features a woman running alone at night

The Samsung ad features a woman running alone at night through a city / Samsung

The campaign featured the tagline ’I run on a different schedule, mine’ and sought to demonstrate the various situations in which women might choose to exercise. However, a section of the ad showed a woman running at 2am through a city street lit only by street lights, wearing Samsung-branded wireless earbuds.

It sparked 27 complaints, with critics blasting Samsung for not recognizing how dangerous solo running potentially is for women at night. Many of the complaints cited the continued rise in violence against women in the UK.

Samsung had already agreed to pull the ads from television and cinema advertising following the backlash but stated that it welcomed clarification from the ASA on whether the ad has breached any rules.

Ultimately, the ASA has decided against taking any action, though it notes that as a societal issue there are many nuances to be taken into account. Clearcast, in particular, said that it had in fact considered the issue of violence against women, but that had it not cleared the ad it would have been seen as tacit victim-blaming for any women runners.

The ruling also states that a breach of the relevant BCAP Code rule 4.4 was generally related to something in the behavior of a person in the ad that was judged to be irresponsible or harmful to their health and safety. Samsung too noted that the activity of women running at night is not by itself something that should be criticized and that, in the absence of a perpetrator of violence, the act is entirely harmless.

Consequently, it argued that: “They also believed there was a risk of there being harmful gender stereotyping if advertising rules did not allow advertisers to show women engaging in activities which presented a risk of a predatory individual attacking them, but allowed for men to be shown undertaking the same activity (for example, if the rules only allowed for men to be shown running alone at night).”

The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) also argued that the burden of responsibility for any harm resulting from running at night rests solely with the perpetrator of any violence, not the runner. As a result, it cleared the ad – which is noted was aspirational in nature – on the grounds that “the panel felt that most women would aspire to live in a world where jogging in the streets after dark was safe, even if, in many places, they knew perfectly well it would not be safe.” It also noted that much violence against women takes place in broad daylight.

The decision from the ASA reflected the statements from the CAA and Clearcast that advertising should be aspirational and so the runner choosing to jog at night was appropriate.

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