Ban for 'prices are Sofa King low' ad
The small business owner of Northampton discount furniture store Sofa King has vowed to fight the advertising regulator after it banned his advertising slogan: "Where the prices are Sofa King Low!"
The Advertising Standards Authority banned the cheeky ad after just three complaints about a newspaper ad published on 4 August 2011, claiming it was offensive.
Sofa King what?Sofa King boss, Mark Kypta, told AOL Money: "I will be fighting the ASA all the way and would like to thank the thousands of people supporting The Sofa King, for all the comments on our Facebook page and the hundreds of emails.
"Three 'people' complain in 10 years and that equals a ban. These complaints only happened once I moved to larger showrooms near to a large retail park going head to head with large corporate sofa companies. A strange coincidence I feel.
"I put this to the ASA five months ago but to no avail. I would like to meet the three members of the public that did complain to find out why they found the slogan Sofa King offensive.
"I agree with what the ASA stands for, but in this instance I feel they have got it wrong - very wrong."
Sofa King badThe Northampton Herald & Post newspaper said it had received two complaints about the slogan. The slogan appeared on the advertiser's shop front and on its vehicles, so could be seen by the public at any time. The paper said its had run the ad for some time with no complaints.
The Sofa King said it had used the slogan "Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!" as its company strap line since it began trading nine years ago. There had been no complaints made to the shop about its slogan.
There had been one complaint before – to the Northamptonshire Police in 2004. But the Crown Prosecution Service took no action.
Sofa King said the slogan simply used its company name to refer to pricing and that the words had not been changed or run together and it had not used punctuation in a way that was intended to cause offence. It told the ASA that it did not believe the slogan caused serious or widespread offence.
Sofa King small mindedBut po-faced bosses at the advertising watchdog "considered that it could be interpreted as a derivative of the swear word 'fuck', which consumer research had found to be a word so likely to offend that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product".
It concluded: "Because of that, we concluded that the slogan was likely to cause serious or widespread offence." It said the ad breached the rules on responsible advertising and causing harm and offence. It said: "The ad must not appear again in its current form."
Will the fashion giant French Connection in the UK - which uses the FCUK brand - be next? Or is it just small businesses that get picked on?