ASA Marketing Brand Safety

ASA bans yet another app ad detailing female sexual violence

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By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

May 3, 2023 | 3 min read

Dreame is the next app in line to break UK ad regulations for sexually violent and explicit content.

Banned Dreame ad seen on the Scrabble Go app

Banned Dreame ad seen on the Scrabble Go app / ASA

The reading app has cut ties with its agency following an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling for ads that referenced female physical assault and oral sex.

The UK regulator has upheld a complaint against the in-app ad for “trivializing and condoning” violence against women and causing “widespread offense”. The ruling is among a growing list of sexually explicit and violent in-app ads that the ASA has taken action over.

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The Dreame ad was seen in the Scrabble Go game and included the following copy: “Making it possible for every passer-by to look at me. To see the multiple bruises beneath the dress. I had wanted to leave, wanted to go back to the attic. But I knew that would only cause me more beatings. More abuse.” Text continued “… she screamed in my face as hers turned into an ugly shade of red. ‘I did suck off your i.diot [sic] boyfriend,’ I thought. ‘And it was the hardest chore ever.’ … “you are not his mate anymore,” she hissed as she slapped me.” Further text stated: “Wake up you lazy s.lut [sic] … a sharp piercing pain hit my stomach and I woke up as a bucket of cold water washed over my thinly clad body.”

According to the CAP Code, advertisers are bound to create ads with a “sense of responsibility to consumers and society.” Since the ads contained references to a woman being sexually humiliated, physical abuse, and descriptions of the injuries caused by her treatment the ASA concluded the ad hadn't been made in a "socially responsible manner".

In response to the ASA investigation, the app’s parent company Stary Pte terminated its relationship with the responsible agency and said it had reaffirmed its advertising guidelines to all agency partners.

The Singapore-based tech entertainment company said it “deeply regretted” that the ad had been served and removed the spot when it was first made aware of the complaint.

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