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Complaints over Donegal nightclub's '19th Hole' billboard upheld after 'grave and widespread offence'

The advert prompted 64 complaints.

The billboard in Buncrana was erected in May.
The billboard in Buncrana was erected in May.

A BILLBOARD FOR a Donegal nightclub that prompted a slew of complaints has been found to be in breach of advertising rules. 

The advert for Liberty nightclub featured a close up of a woman’s behind and she holds a golf club and wears a short skirt and a golf glove. 

The tagline for the advert reads: “Libertys, Your 19th Hole For the Summer.”

Photographs of the advert were shared widely on social media when the billboard went up in May and the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has said today that it received a total of 64 complaints about it.

“The main issues raised were in relation to the advertisement being offensive, misogynistic and promoting a rape culture,” the ASAI said.

Many complainants considered that the advertisement had an inappropriate focus on the image of the woman’s bottom and that the depiction of the woman reduced her to a sexual object and that she was objectified in the advertisement.

“Many complainants also considered the implication was that men could access sex with young women at the nightclub and that it prompted sexually predatory behaviour.”

In its response to the complaints, the Buncrana nightclub said that the term “19th hole” was a reference to the golf slang term for a pub or bar after a round of golf. 

Libertys said that the billboard was being used to promote the nightclub ahead of the Irish Open golf tournament, which was being held in nearby Ballyliffin at the end of June.

The nightclub was asked by the ASAI why a woman was featured on the billboard.

It responded by saying that there was “no conscious decision to use an image of a woman” and that “some images were considered” that featured a man and not a women.

But in its determination, the ASAI found that part of the advertising code requires that advertisers should, “avoid causing offence on the grounds of gender or the exploitation or demeaning of women and should respect the principle of the equality of men and women”.

The ASAI also noted that the large number of complaints demonstrated that the advertisement had caused “grave and widespread offence”.

The billboard was up between 11-14 May of this year and the ASAI advised that it not run again in its current form.

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Rónán Duffy

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