An advert that was ruled inappropriate and banned from a city’s buses has appeared on a billboard.
The air conditioning advert – described by an academic as “plain sexist” – features the line: “Your wife is hot!”
It was meant to appear on seven buses in Nottingham but Adverta, which places adverts on buses and trams in the city, blocked it and said it could cause offence.
Lee Davies, who designed the ad, said it was “a little bit of harmless fun”.
Professor Carrie Paechter, director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, said the advert was “like something out of the 1950s” and called for it to be removed.
“If I had young children, I wouldn’t want them passing that on the way to school, because of the messages it gives them about society,” she said.
“The subliminal message about society is that it’s OK to comment on women’s bodies, and comment on women’s bodies as if they are the possession of someone else – ‘your wife’.
“It also gives the subliminal message that it’s the man of the house that’s responsible for getting the air conditioning fixed.”
A new rule came into force last month prohibiting harmful gender stereotypes in adverts, following a review of gender stereotyping by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Prof Paechter added: “I don’t want to demonise the company or the company’s owner but it is a foolish advert and it needs to come down.”
The advert – at the junction of Woodborough Road and Porchester Road in Mapperley – was designed by Not Just Cooling owner Mr Davies.
“I don’t mean to offend anybody,” he said.
“I saw an advert like this in America, I chuckled to myself and thought ‘why not?’. Air conditioning is a very hard thing to advertise.”
He said he ran the idea past his team of engineers, who are all men, and discussed the idea with his mother and wife, who approved too.
“My wife knows what I’m like,” he said.
“She thinks it’s funny because my wife knows my sense of humour.”
Adverta officials decided people might be offended by the advert, so blocked it from appearing on buses in Nottingham.
A spokesman said: “Adverta took the view that the artwork supplied could cause offence and sought the views of our partners, Nottingham City Transport, and together we decided not to allow it, taking the view that it was not appropriate.”
The billboard is owned by Space Outdoor, whose owner Andrew Foster said they had received “nothing but positive feedback from the people we have spoken with”.
“All of our campaigns are screened and judged by our in-house team,” he said.
“We would never display anything indecent, illegal or immoral and in this case we found the advert to be in good taste and non-offensive.”
‘Not really appropriate’
The billboard is opposite a school uniform supply shop, where staff were not impressed.
“It’s a bit sexist really,” said Alison Marshall.
“It’s like in the ’70s and ’80s when they used to have girls modelling with cars. To say ‘Your wife is hot’ is aiming it at men.
“It’s old-fashioned. If the billboard had been put up 20 years ago, it might be more appropriate but in this day and age it’s not really appropriate.”
Her colleague Rebecca Morris said a woman had been put on the advert “for no reason”.
“I don’t see how it’s relevant to air conditioning at all,” she said.
“It’s aimed at men but anyone can buy air conditioning. I just don’t know how it made it on to a billboard.
“I would have thought someone would have stopped it before. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea.”
CJ Wilkinson added: “It isn’t only women that get hot. It’s more aimed towards men which is obviously a bit sexist.”
The ASA said it had not received any complaints about the advert.