By Nico Gous for TimesLive
OMFG! This abbreviation‚ used in a cheeky advertisement for “sparkle pens” that could appeal to children‚ was not a mistake.
In fact it was used intentionally by stationary and gift shop Typo‚ in an advertisement emailed to customers that was regarded‚ by some people‚ as vulgar and insensitive.
The advert was the subject of a recent complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Katharine Marsden and Sally Cruickshanks argued that OMFG (which stands for “Oh my f**king God” – an expression of surprise) was vulgar‚ insensitive‚ inappropriate and offensive to all religions. They added that children liked Typo stores and should not be exposed to this language.
But Typo disagreed and told the ASA: “It is definitely not its intention to offend. It is intended to be fun‚ in jest and perhaps a little cheeky.”
The advertisement stated‚ among other things: “Spend R400 and receive a free sparkle ballpoint pen.” It also featured a model who appeared to be astonished by the offer‚ accompanied by a speech bubble containing the offending acronym.
In its ruling the ASA noted that “the product in question is one that appeals to children – a sparkle pen – and the execution is one that would be attractive to children‚ the material is in an email that is sent to Typo customers‚ who are identified as aged 18 to 35. A child who could be harmed by expletives should not have unchecked access to email and should not be subscribed to a retail mailing list.”
The ASA was unanimous that the use of “f**k” or “f**king” would have been offensive and inappropriate for children‚ but has previously dismissed complaints about use of “OMG” (Oh My God).
A minority in the ASA felt that OMFG was offensive because it was different to euphemisms for the four-letter expletive such as “effing” or “frecking” and the religious connotation made it worse.
The majority ruled “by a narrow margin” that it was similar to euphemisms and inoffensive to adults.
The complaint was dismissed.
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has found Takealot guilty of selling products at higher prices than what it advertises the goods for.
In a recent sponsored Facebook promotion, Takealot advertised DKNY perfume at R369 – a saving of 62% on the normal price.
When a consumer tried to purchase this product, however, they had to pay over R200 more than the advertised price.
A complaint was lodged with the ASA regarding this practice after Takealot told the client it was “not responsible for advertising appearing on third-party platforms”.
According to the complainant, Takealot told her “its terms and conditions exempt it from liability emanating from its own advertising”.
Takealot responded to the complaint, stating it is not an ASA member and that the organisation’s rulings are therefore not binding to it.
The online retailer did acknowledge that this was the third complaint of this type brought to the ASA.
It explained there “may be lags in bringing the pricing of third-party advertisers in line with price changes”.
“The product on special had sold out when the complainant claimed the deal, but the advertising had not been changed,” said Takealot.
The ASA rejected Takealot’s argument that it was not responsible for advertisements from third-party advertisers.
“If Takealot uses third-party advertisers, then it must ensure that checks and balances are in place that such advertisers only display correct information,” said the ASA.
“The reality is that Takealot benefits from the traffic flow to its website and it must take responsibility for the actions of the third-party advertiser.”
The ASA subsequently rejected Takealot’s submission that its advertising is not misleading.
It said consumers are led to believe that advertised products at the discounted rates are available on Takealot, which they are not.
The complaint that Takealot’s advertisement promising a discounted price was misleading was upheld, and it advised the company not to repeat this advertising.