Ad Standards Board rules Sexpo can advertise to school kids

And the Brisbane City Council doesn't care


A resident of Brisbane's northside sent the following complaint to the Ad Standards Board:

The imagery is clearly marketing sex industry services to a broad audience which includes children. This particular ad was seen on the back of a school bus as it pulled into a bus stop outside a primary school. I had to drive ten minutes directly behind this bus on my way home with my children in the car.

In addition to my own children asking questions about the ad - as it is clear to them that the ad was "inappropriate" their word, not mine - I heard other children talking loudly about it as they got off the bus and crossed the road - "Look it's Sexpo."

I had to have a conversation with my 12 year old about sexual exploitation and the way the sex industry markets this to a broad audience. (It would have been nice to discuss his school day instead) This conversation was more of a challenge when confronted with questions from an 8 year old who knows what "sex" is, but doesn't understand why it is advertised as something that is "for sale" on the back of a bus.

The image of a couple kissing placed alongside the large lettering of the events title "Sexpo" and event sponsors "My free cams" "Club X" and a list of event activities against a brightly covered back drop, makes this advertisement explicit and provocative.

The advertisement includes the URL for sexpo, that within two clicks leads to hardcore live streaming pornography/prostitution acts. Any child with a smart phone would be able to see live streaming footage of women masturbating with sex toys within minutes.

It is well known that parental control of mobile phones is lacking for a number of reasons, including parents not understanding technology, or children deliberately circumventing parental controls. It is wildly irresponsible for Sexpo and Brisbane Bus Lines to explicitly advertise sex industry events and hardcore porn sites on a school bus.

The Advertising Standard Board's response

The Board noted the complainant’s concern that after accessing the advertised Sexpo website,

“within two clicks leads to hardcore live streaming pornography/prostitution acts”.

The Board noted that its role is to consider the content of the advertisement under complaint and considered that it has no jurisdiction over further internet searches made after accessing an advertiser’s website.

Note the lack of jurisdiction and lack of concern as to what the complainant might do next about this issue. The community is just supposed to accept that the school bus picking up their children may introduce them to hardcore porn via the advertising plastered across it. 

This is ad industry self regulation in action. 

Here's more:

The Board noted the complainant’s concern that it is irresponsible for Brisbane bus lines toadvertise sex industry events.

The Board noted that it’s not its role to consider the type of bus used and the type of advertisement placed on it, but rather just to consider the audience likely to see the advertisement.

The Board acknowledged that some members of the community would prefer for this type of event to not be advertised but considered that the use of the word ‘sex’ as part of the event’s name is not of itself inappropriate, this product is legally allowed to be advertised, and overall the content is relatively mild and does treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience. 

The Board contradicts itself by stating that it is not the boards role to consider the type of bus used (a school bus) and the type of advertisement placed on it (which is odd for an organisation called "The Advertising Standards Board") but rather to "consider the audience likely to see the advertisement." 

The board then goes on to completely ignore "the audience likely to see the advertisement" - children, from prep to year 12, based on the route this particular bus took.

But the board does goes out of its way to avoid mentioning the word 'children' or 'child.' Instead it makes references to "some people" and their "preferences" which has nothing to do with the substance of the complaint. 

The ASB concludes that the advertisement on the side of a school bus - for a sex exhibition complete with direct URLs to hardcore porn sites and live streaming prostitution acts - sites with no age verification required - is suitable for the "relevant broad audience."

If that "broad audience" is predominantly made up of children - which it obviously is - the Ad Standards Board certainly doesn't care. 

You can read the complete case report here. 

Here's another picture of a Brisbane Bus Lines bus taken at around the same time.


Complaints to the Brisbane City Council have so far fallen on deaf ears, with a representative stating that the Advertising Standards Board manages advertising. 

Every voice counts, click here to submit a complaint to Brisbane's Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

While it may seem pointless to submit complaints to the Advertising Standards Board given what you've just read, it is important and valuable for us as a grassroots campaigning group that such complaints are on record. 

If you see an ad that uses sexploitation Click here to submit a complaint to the Ad Standards Board

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