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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
Sensitive topic

Complaints upheld against Carphone Warehouse's 'Pro-Choice' adverts

The initial response to the adverts was negative, and they were pulled by Carphone Warehouse shortly afterwards.

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority for Ireland has upheld complaints made against Carphone Warehouse relating to their “Pro-Choice” adverts that briefly featured on internet, social media and outdoors.

Complainants had said that the adverts were offensive and trivialised sensitive topics.

Carphone Warehouse have agreed not to use the phrase as a slogan in future marketing material.


One of the adverts featured a picture of a denim jacket with a badge pinned just beneath the collar. The badge reads: “We’re Pro-Choice”.

The bottom of the advertisement then reads: “The only place you get to choose your network, phone and plan. Carphone Warehouse.”

Another advert featured a baby wearing a vest, and posed the question: “What makes a family? Mum and Mum. Mum and Dad. Dad and Dad.” Again, it also featured the same byline about choosing the phone, network and plan, as well as the Pro-Choice slogan.

Over 40 complaints were received regarding these two adverts.

The ASAI said that the “common theme” among these complaints was the wording in the ad mirroring the wording used by campaigners looking to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

They said: “The majority of complainants strongly considered that the use of the wording ‘Pro-Choice’ in the current climate was highly offensive and trivialised a very sensitive topic, particularly as it was linked to the sale of mobile phones/plans.”

In response, Carphone Warehouse said they had “neither nor promoted abortion”. Their “position” was they had simply believed in the value and right of choice.

The complaints against these adverts were upheld and the ASAI told Carphone Warehouse not to use the slogan again.


Another Carphone Warehouse advert that received a complaint featured as a banner advertisement on the company website.

The ASAI detailed: “It featured the head and shoulders of a person with a neutral expression. The person had a short hairstyle and wore a collarless tee-shirt with straps going over the shoulders.”

The text then asks “What do you see? Guy. Girl. Me.”

The complainant said “the implication on viewing the advertisement was that transgender people ‘choose’ their gender and that such ‘choice’ was frivolous”.

In response, Carphone Warehouse said they had “hoped that the universal answer might have been the person rather than their gender”.

In conclusion, the ASAI said: “The Committee noted that the advertisers would not use the wording ‘Pro Choice’ in future marketing material and on that basis no further action was required in relation to this issue.

The Committee told the advertisers, however, that advertisement No. 3 should not be used in its current format again.

Read: Complaint upheld after children were fined for riding Luas for free

Read: New rules for businesses who want to call their food ‘artisan’ or ‘natural’

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