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ASA rules on Habito ad

Jessica Nangle

January 29, 2020

An advertisement for mortgage broker Habito which featured in Grazia magazine in November 2019 has been investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ad featured text which stated “Mortgage Kama Sutra. 1 in 10 couples say that getting a mortgage made their sex lives hell. Habito finds you the best deal so you can focus on the fun stuff”.

It also featured various images of suggestive sexual positions including text alongside.

Two complainants challenged whether the advertisement was “offensive and irresponsible” due to its sexual nature.

Habito responded that the ad was designed as a “fun take on mortgages for an adult-only audience” and said the idea was based on a YouGov panel of 2,000 adults which revealed the negative impact that getting a mortgage can have on the libido of British people.

The mortgage broker also said that the images featured “muted colours, minimal detail and negative space, carrying double meanings” which they felt were not “immediately apparent” at first glance and therefore “added subtlety to the content”.

Habito furthered that the images were not explicit in nature and were carefully and purposefully designed to be “gender, race, age and sexual orientation and disability-neurtal”.

Bauer Consumer Media Ltd, the publishers of Grazia magazine, said that they thought the advertisement was suitable for their magazine which had an average readership age of 38.

The ASA did not uphold the complains against the advert, and noted that it sough to “draw attention to Habito’s mortgage services in a novel way by informing readers that the libido of one in ten couples was affected by the mortgage process”.

The authority acknowledged that whilst “some would find the artistic illustrations of secual positions and accompanying descriptions distasteful, they were not explicit” and considered that most readers were likely to view the advert as a “humourous play on the results of the survey”.

The ASA concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to those who saw it and was “not irresponsible”.

The ad was investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3  (responsible advertising) and 4.1 (harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


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