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Watch: Ad for 'the world's slimmest phone' banned for objectifying women

Authorities in the United Kingdom received several complaints about the ad.

Kazam EU / YouTube

A TV AD for British mobile handset company Kazam has been banned in the UK on the grounds that it was likely to objectify women.

The ad, created by Ogilvy & Mather, aimed to showcase “the world’s slimmest phone,” Kazam’s Tornado 348. The black and white footage featured a woman in only her underwear, slinking through a house.

The camera then cut to a scene where she ran her finger down her cleavage, bit her lip, then proceeded to move her hand over her hip and thigh. Later on in the ad, the camera cut to a close-up of her bottom.

The ad sparked eight complaints, who objected to the spot because “it was overtly sexual and objectified women, and because the content bore no relationship to the advertised product,” according to the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) adjudication published Wednesday. Eight complaints may not seem like a lot, but it only takes one complaint for the ASA to investigate an ad to see if it is in breach of the UK’s advertising codes.

The ASA ruled that the ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. However, at the time of writing, it still appears on Kazam’s YouTube page.

PastedImage-67039 The first appearance of the phone... 40 seconds into the commercial. Kazam EU Kazam EU

The ad watchdog noted that the ad focused almost entirely on the actor in her underwear and the sexually suggestive nature of the spot was heightened by the music, and also the fact that the scenes in the ad had little relation to the Kazam Tornado 348. The ASA concluded the ad was likely to cause “serious offense” to some viewers, on the basis that it objectified women.

In response to the complaints, Kazam said its ad was actually playing to the idea that the phone was so slim it could easily be forgotten if it were left in a shirt pocket. The spot was meant to play out a “well-known scenario” (ironing your shirt in your underwear before you go out) but with the added twist that the phone was so slim, the actor didn’t realize she was ironing over it.

Kazam also added that it was careful to ensure the ad was only broadcast during programs appropriate to the “tongue-in-cheek” nature of the ad, and shows that were unlikely to be viewed by children.

Clearcast, the UK’s broadcasting clearing body, said while the scenes in the ad were “slightly sexual” it did not believe they were “gratuitous or likely to cause offense.” Nevertheless, the spot was given an “ex-kids” restriction.

Business Insider has contacted Kazam for comment about the company’s opinion on the ruling and will update this article when a response has been received

- Lara O’Reilly

Read: ‘Sexist’ poster for cycling race hits bum note >

More: E-cig ad will be the first since 1965 to show smoking on UK television >

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