An advert for a Sheffield-based company has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency for being irresponsible and potentially causing “serious or widespread offence.”
Atlas Arms is a fire arms dealer and it placed an advert in a brochure, promoting guns and knives. The “Special Offer” featured images of various guns including air and sniper rifles, handguns and accessories such as cartridges and steel BBs, and the corresponding price for each item.
Some of the wording was: “Black Ops Sniper Rifle… £250 RRP £269.95 includes free pellets.”
A banner in the centre of the page said that customers “must be over 18 with proof I.D.”
It also stated that there were “free gifts” on offers over £100 and “free local deliver straight to your door.”
A second page featured knives.
The complainant received the brochure through their letterbox in Sheffield and reported it to the Advertising Standards Agency for being potentially offensive and irresponsible.
Atlas Arms responded that as the images were “inanimate objects without any connotations likely to cause offence on the grounds of factors such as religion, sexual orientation or age.”
They also “did not depict any scenario for which the items would be used.”
It continued that the ad was aimed at people over the age of 18 and that around 1000 leaflets were delivered by a third-party company.
ASA said while it was legal to sell and advertise the weapons which featured in the ad, it was distributed via a door drop to people’s homes on the basis of their postcode, and “was not contained in an addressed envelope.”
This meant that children could have have viewed the material.
The ruling added that:
“We considered that the presentation of large images of the air rifle and machete in the ad alongside promotional messaging, and the decorative nature and titles of some of the items, contributed to the likelihood of the ad causing offence to consumers. We also considered that the decorative knives featured in the ad were likely to be different to the functional knives and blades that consumers typically saw in high street shops.
“Additionally, the ad featuring guns and knives had been delivered directly into people’s homes, during a climate of widely reported concerns about rising levels of violent crime, in particular knife crime, both nationally and in Sheffield. Therefore in that context, we considered those factors also contributed to the ad being likely to cause offence to consumers.”
ASA said that it was therefore likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” and it was “irresponsible because of the manner it was distributed.”
The ad must not appear again in its current form and Atlas Arms has been advised to ensure future marketing communications does not contain anything likely to cause serious or widespread offence.