A porn billboard just three blocks from a Perth primary school has received a thumbs up from the ad industry self regulator. The Ad Standards Community Panel ruled in favour of the advertiser to the detriment of community members - vulnerable kids included - dismissing hundreds of complaints about the gargantuan streetside suburban porn ad.
The outcome is exactly as we predicted. Ad Standards has a years-long history of endorsing children’s exposure to sex and porn industry ads in the public space - including ads plastered across council buses which flogged livestream porn sites to school kids.
What community members said
From the Case Report:
The billboard is very large and present at an intersection on a main route to daycares and schools. It is also along a bus route. This means that children and young people will be exposed to the imagery.
There is no way to avoid it or block it from children..I don’t want my children thinking that’s how to make money when you grow up.
As a woman, it makes me feel less safe in society, and distressed at the message this sends my teenage daughter (it's socially acceptable to view women as sexual objects) and my teenage sons (society says it's OK to portray women like this).
That pose is not any normal pose. It is ONLY a pose that you see in sexualised content like pornography. People have no choice but to see it, whether they want to or not. It’s unmissable..I dont WANT to see that. Either does my 12 year old daughter who I am trying hard to raise to be a strong young women who shouldn’t need to feel pressured to dress, look or behave like a woman in porn movie.
Australia is supposed to be trying to combat the rise of domestic violence, including sexual violence, and coercive control. Clear links between attitudes that objectify women and these criminal and social issues, have been established by a plethora of research.
What the advertiser said (+ our responses)
Advertiser: I am not a member of the advertising industry and therefore not required to submit the material for approval.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Big. Red. Flag. This comment highlights the failures of ad industry self regulation. An advertiser is free to flog porn to kids in the public space - no prevetting required. Just a willing collaborator like - in this case - WA Billboards. (Remember Steve?)
Advertiser: I sought advice from a professional media body at the graphic design stage of the content and several modifications were made to the content to ensure it met the standards of the Ad Standards and spirit of what Ad Standards sets out to achieve.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Ad Standards routinely dismisses community objections to harmful, pornified, objectifying portrayals of women in advertising. That's why we're not surprised about their endorsement of the porn billboard, and why the advertiser might have been confident that the porn billboard 'met the standards of Ad Standards'.
It's unclear what the 'spirit of what Ad Standards sets out to achieve' is exactly. We do know that Ad Standard's job is to protect community members from exposure to harmful advertising. Like the porn billboard.
Once again, Ad Standards failed to do its job.
Advertiser: I was aware that the content could possibly create some objections and apart from an initial wave of media attention this has now subsided.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: More than 6k people have signed a petition to pull the porn billboard, and it is still growing.
Advertiser: It’s my view that certain segments of the media portrayed this issue in a deliberately controversial manner that is self-serving and damaged my professional reputation as a content creator.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: We were pleased to see media coverage giving voice to community members who want the porn billboard gone - especially since mainstream media tends to portray OnlyFans porn creation without critique, and as a glamourous and lucrative career choice for young women.
It is unclear what damages are being referred to, noting the advertiser celebrated a significant hike in OnlyFans subscribers and profits as a result of the porn billboard which was shoved in non-consenting community members' faces.
Advertiser: The content of the sign is consistent with many other Out of Home advertising messages in that it uses pictorial image along with a web site address, a QR code and several small icons for well-known social media sites.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The Billboard is 12.6 metres wide and 3.3 metres tall. Nothing about it is ‘small’. Community members described it as 'unmissable'. The billboard is MASSIVE - and so are the QR code, OnlyFans logo and Instagram logo featured on it, which direct viewers to a porn site.
Advertiser: None of the websites listed depicts adult content.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The billboard's QR code links to a porn site where a list of degrading porn acts including 'bondage', 'anal' and 'squirting' and porn themed images of a woman are featured. The Instagram account promoted on the billboard features porn themed content and directs users to a porn site.
Advertiser: Parents don’t “need to explain only fans"..
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: Parents are FORCED to explain pornography to kids at younger and younger ages because the predatory porn industry forces itself into children’s lives - unwanted and uninvited. This porn billboard is just another example of the predatory porn industry targeting kids. It makes parents' conversations with kids about OnlyFans unavoidable.
Parents have a right to choose when and how they teach their children about sex, sexuality and pornography. Vested interests of the predatory porn industry should not have a free pass to violate that right in the name of 'advertising'.
Advertiser: ..[parents] can say it’s something for adults only - the same as alcohol or gambling ads we see every day everywhere especially during sporting events.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: We are not opposed to kids seeing fewer gambling or alcohol ads. We do not accept that ads flogging the sale of women's bodies as men's masturbation material are 'the same as alcohol or gambling ads'. Women are not things. We object to advertising and marketing activities which serve to reinforce female subordination and women's second class status by reducing women's bodies to products.
*We are never surprised when vested interests of the porn and sex industries blame parents for children's exposure to porn, or offer advice on how parents need to do better to protect them from it - read more here.
Advertiser: Children in general do not know what Only Fans is.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: This claim has no substance. And it goes against facts.
Late last year the BBC exposed how OnlyFans aids child sexual exploitation after US law agents found that pre-pubescent children were being directed to produce 'abusive images' of themselves which were then uploaded to the platform. UK child protection advocacy group NSPCC said that children are also consuming pornography on OnlyFans.
Advertiser: The image is of me in any in a bikini at the beach, to link this with pornography is simply wrong. (sic)
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The image is of a women in a bikini POSED FOR SEX. The billboard is flogging subscriptions to a porn account. It literally links viewers to a porn site.
Advertiser: The assertion that a girl in bikini is directly linked to pornography is wrong.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The billboard flogging porn subscriptions features a porn style image of a women and tools to access a porn site. The assertion that this specific billboard image is directly linked to pornography is correct.
Advertiser: The photo used in the message is not sexual - I am the model and it was taken at a public beach in swimwear – I would wear to any beach. Some complaints are attempting to make a tenuous link to the image and pornographic content which it does not do.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: Repeating statements about bikinis and beaches does not change the fact that this is a sexualised image used to flag porn content for sale on a porn site.
Advertiser: I attached a link to petition that supports the message, many are from women.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: We were not surprised to see support for the porn billboard. The signatures on the pro porn billboard petition represent ill informed, poorly shaped opinions influenced by a culture which normalises and even celebrates the sale of women's bodies as men's masturbation material.
The 3k people including 'many women' who signed this petition have effectively advocated for children and other non consenting members of the public to be forced to view a massive porn billboard while going about their business in the public space. They have effectively advocated for the sexual grooming of children and the sexual harassment of other community members. They have effectively demonstrated support for an ad that contributes to sexist attitudes toward and tolerance of violence against women.
The petition is a red herring - a distraction from meaningful and much needed discussions about how this billboard makes life worse for women and girls.
Advertiser: I am promoting my own legitimate business, which is registered with ASIC and the Australian Taxation office. My earnings are subject to being taxed as is any other commercial trading entity in Australia and unlike many foreign nationals and companies I don’t use off shore accounts to avoid tax. Therefore I believe I have the right to advertise my services in a responsible manner.
CORRECTION: Paying taxes does not give a business owner licence to shove gigantic porn billboards in peoples’ faces. On the subject of ‘rights’, people - including vulnerable children - have the right to NOT be sexually harassed and groomed through exposure to porn billboards in the public space. Advertising in a "responsible manner" means engaging with facts about the harms of objectification and pornified portrayals of women in advertising - on women and girls especially; demonstrating care and consideration for community members impacted by the advertising; and NOT shoving gigantic porn billboards in peoples' faces.
Advertiser: I have been inundated with chain emails from a small religious group in an attempt to collapse my email address. The same group have in my opinion been the ones that have threatened me with physical harm. To remove the message would send a message to these small extreme groups that harassment of an individual person can work.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Objectification of women is foundational to male attitudes and behaviours which harm women and girls, including sexual harassment and assault and other forms of violence and abuse. As Jean Kilbourne said, ‘turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person’.
We stand against harassment, assault, abuse and violence against women while challenging cultural factors which contribute to it - like pornography and the objectification of women in advertising.
Removing the billboard would send a message to community members that the safety and well being of people - women and girls especially - is more important than profit.
Advertiser: The QR code is on the far side from the road and is not intended for road users but the people in the car park. To access the QR code a person would need to walk up to the base of the sign and scan the code.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: We were able to access the porn account landing page via the QR Code while sitting in a parked vehicle at the service station next to the billboard, at the bowsers furthest away from the sign. Regardless of who it is intended for the QR code is accessible to anyone who holds a mobile device camera up to it.
Advertiser: QR codes are commonly incorporated into other Out of Home messages and its placement was chosen so as not to be considered a road safety issue.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT REPONSE: At least road safety was considered in the production and placement of the porn billboard. If only a fraction of this concern was given to the fact it gives kids access to a porn site.
Advertiser: If a member of the public does use the QR code – the person is directed to a web site landing page that requires you to pass a Pay Wall which includes the visitor certifying that they are over 18 and to enter a credit card to subscribe. No adult content is available until these steps are completed.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The landing page features sexualised imagery and a list of degrading and explicit porn acts. No proof of age required.
Advertiser: The image used is me at the beach in a bikini which is an act participated in by majority of Australians and its tourists and is not considered sexual.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: Context is key. The image is highly sexual, depicting a woman posed “doggy style” on all fours with legs spread to the rear. It is being used to flog subscriptions to a porn site.
Advertiser: The City of Stirling - the local government authority has issued a statement that the message does not breach any local laws and that the matter rests with the advertiser and sign company.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The City of Stirling passed the buck to the land owner - Akerele Pty Ltd (whose Directors Ms Anna Ricciardello and Calogero Ricciardello are the decision makers in a petition to pull the porn billboard) and directed concerned community members to the impotent, self regulated ad industry complaints handling body, Ad Standards.
Advertiser: There is no discrimination or vilification of any person or group as per (2.1) There is no exploitation or degrading images or references thereto as per (2.2) There is no depiction of violence as per 2.3 There is no sexual content in this ad as per the definition of 2.4. There is no nudity or sexuality (2.4) There is no sexual act sex, or overt sexuality and nudity (2.4), There is no offensive language (2.5), There are no self-harm messages 2.6. The message is clearly an advertising message (2.7) The message is not demeaning to women as some complaints maintain or in reference to being obscene when measured against the definitions listed above.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Saying things does not make them true. Measuring things against the AANA Code of Ethics does not mean they have been assessed sufficiently. Decades of research verifies that this type of advertising serves to demean, degrade and dehumanise women.
Advertiser: The billboard location is sited in a commercial / industrial area. The site cannot be seen from any residential area. Nor any park or recreational facility. There are no schools or childcare centres nearby or any other venue that children would attend.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The porn billboard is situated at a busy intersection used by motorists, public buses and pedestrians. A school is located three blocks away. A dance school, Karate school and vet are located opposite the billboard. The billboard faces directly into a service station. A complainant pointed out that the billboard is on a ‘main route’ to day cares and schools and that it is located on a bus route.
Advertiser: The content on the website cannot be seen simply by scanning the QR code, you must accept you’re 18, create an account, add a credit card and then pay to subscribe to the site.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The porn account landing page accessible via the QR Code features a list of explicit porn acts and porn themed imagery.
Advertiser: This effectively prevents under 18 visitors from accessing any content.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: Anyone with a mobile device can access the porn page and the Instagram account promoting and linked to it - even when restrictions are set to block adult content.
Many steps must be taken before seeing ANYTHING of a sexual nature.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: 'Bondage', 'anal', 'pussy play', 'squirting' and 'cum shots' are pornographic terms used to describe the pornographic content featured in the advertised porn account. These are explicit sexual terms. It took ONE STEP to reach the porn page featuring this list and sexualised imagery.
Advertiser: I seek to promote my page by using an image of me in a bikini at the beach. Not in a bed in lingerie or using any sexual connotations. Nowhere on the billboard is message the mention of sexual services or content.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: OnlyFans is a porn site. Its owner Leonid Radvinsky is a corporate pimp, pornographer and predator. Attempts to promote OnlyFans as a platform for “general” content creators are disingenuous.
An OnlyFans logo, an image of a women posed for sex, a QR code and Instagram handle directing viewers to an OnlyFans account where degrading porn acts are listed: nowhere on the billboard is the message NOT about sexual services or content. (We note that the billboard's featured Instagram handle initially promoted a Twitter account but this has since been removed. We note also that the advertiser uses Twitter to share porn content using hashtagged terms popular with kids and young teens, and to promote the OnlyFans porn account.)
Advertiser: Therefore I submit that case 0233-22 is similar in nature to this message and that an approval would be consistent with past approvals that Ad Standards have given. The only people who will be able to see this as sexual in nature are those who are already exposed to sex, porn or sexual interactions themselves - therefore excluding children from the argument.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: Children are not dumb. They are curious. They have mobile devices. And they know how to use QR codes. It is irresponsible and egregious to disregard the potential impact of the porn billboard on kids.
Advertiser: The site the QR code directs to be 18 years age restricted with credit card walls and 18+ walls put in place to prevent minors from accessing exclusive content. With this being highlighted as a reassurance to the Panel the direction of the QR code to my site is not under the Panel’s purview, only the media on the sign itself. It is clear that the photo & QR code doesn’t impact any clause of the code.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: If Ad Standards and the AANA Code of Ethics it makes its decisions by cannot accommodate consideration of a billboard QR code which directs viewers - including children - to a porn site, they are not fit for purpose. This point only serves to further highlight shortcomings of ad industry self regulation.
What Ad Standards said (+ our responses)
Community Panel: The advertisement depicts a woman in a black bikini swimsuit on her hands and knees in shallow water outdoors.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The woman is posed 'doggy style' for sex.
Community Panel: The advertisement is to promote the woman’s site on the internet content subscription service platform OnlyFans. The Panel noted that the OnlyFans platform hosts the work of a range of content creators, including that of adult-only content creators.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: OnlyFans is a porn site owned by long-time corporate pimp, pornographer and predator Leonid Radvinsky. See previous responses.
Community Panel: The body of the woman in the advertisement is covered by a bikini swimsuit but that some members of the community would consider that the depiction of a woman in a bikini swimsuit is a depiction of sexual appeal. The Panel therefore considered that the advertisement uses sexual appeal.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: The problem is not 'a woman in a bikini'. It's that the porn billboard depicts a woman as an object for men's sexual use (and abuse). Read more here.
Community Panel: The woman depicted in the advertisement is the advertiser and owner and content creator of the OnlyFans page being promoted. The Panel noted that it is common for individual content-creators to use images of themselves, to promote their brand and online sites. For example, individuals promoting health and fitness often use images of themselves in swimwear and exercise wear to draw attention to their products and services. The Panel considered that in this case the advertiser has chosen to share an image of herself to promote her own personal brand and site and is not shown to be an object or commodity. The Panel also considered that the use of an image of the advertiser is directly relevant to the advertiser’s brand and site. The Panel considered that the advertisement does not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative of women.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Yet again Ad Standards has demonstrated a lack of understanding of what sexual objectification is and how it harms women and girls. This is a literal sex industry ad which employs an image of a woman posed - as one man on social media put it - 'ready for a pounding from the rear', to flog subscriptions to porn content for men to masturbate to. Ad Standards also demonstrates a lack of ability to engage with facts: The woman featured in the ad flogging porn subscription is literally depicted as a commodity.
Community Panel: The woman is promoting her own personal brand and content. The Panel considered that her choice to share her image does not lower her in character or quality. The Panel considered that the advertisement did not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is degrading to the women.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Presenting women in sexual poses to flog men's masturbation material is the essence of women's degradation. Ad Standards' use of euphemisms and refusal to engage with facts does not change this.
Community Panel: The woman in the advertisement is not depicted engaging in sexual intercourse or sexually stimulating behaviour.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: See 'doggy style' and 'ready for a pounding from the rear' responses above.
Community Panel: The advertisement does not contain sex.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: It's a porn billboard flogging porn subscriptions on a porn site featuring an image of a woman in a porn pose. The ad ONLY contains references to sex.
Community Panel: Some members of the community might consider an image of a woman in a bikini swimsuit to be a depiction of sexuality. The Panel noted that the advertisement is promoting an account on a platform known to some members of the community to contain adult content. The Panel therefore considered that in combination with an image of a woman wearing a bikini this advertisement does contain sexuality.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Sexuality and sexual objectification are not the same thing. Conflating the two, or misidentifying sexually objectifying depictions of women as mere 'depictions of sexuality' (as Ad Standards has done) means that Ad Standards will continue to endorse harmful, pornified ads like this porn billboard.
Community Panel: The definition of nudity in the Practice Note is “the depiction of a person without clothing or covering; partial or suggested nudity may also be considered nudity”. The Panel noted that the advertisement depicts a woman in a bikini swimsuit and that this is a depiction of partial nudity.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: 'Partial nudity' is not the problem. Reducing women to sex objects is.
Community Panel: The advertisement is displayed on a large outdoor billboard. The Panel noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement is visible from a main road, bus route and petrol station and children are able to view the advertisement. The Panel also noted the advertiser’s response that the billboard is in a commercial/industrial area and there are no schools or childcare centres nearby or any other venue that children would attend.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: The advertiser has apparently provided incorrect information. A primary school is located 800m - just three blocks - from the porn billboard. A complainant noted that the porn billboard is situated in a position en route to schools and day care centres. A Karate school, dance school and vet are located just opposite the billboard. These as well as the service station which the porn billboard directly faces are venues frequented by children.
Community Panel: Most people viewing the advertisement are likely to be adults.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: This is an unsubstantiated claim which does not negate the fact that children are having the gigantic porn billboard shoved in their faces.
Community Panel: The audience of the advertisement would include children in vehicles driving past the billboard and at the petrol station. The Panel therefore considered that the relevant audience for the advertisement would be broad and include children.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Yep.
Community Panel: The definition of sensitivity in the Practice Note is “understanding and awareness to the needs and emotions of others”.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: We note that in the process of shoving the porn billboard in community members' faces, the advertiser and the billboard owner - WA Billboards - have failed to demonstrate an understanding and awareness of anything beyond their bank balance. (Edit: *and road safety. See earlier response.)
Community Panel: Some members of the community would prefer that this type of product not be advertised at all or where it can be seen by children.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Women are not things and their bodies and body parts are not products. Responsible adults protect children from porn billboards which depict women and their bodies as commodified masturbation material for men.
Community Panel: The Panel's role is to consider the content of an advertisement and not the product being advertised.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: The Panel's role is to protect community members from harmful advertising. The content of the porn billboard - which includes a pornified depiction of a woman - cannot be magically separated from the male masturbation material it promotes and directs viewers - including children - to. If Ad Standards can't take these facts into consideration in its rulings then clearly it is not fit for task. We need a new system that is.
Community Panel: The complainants’ concerns that children could scan the QR code and be directed to adult-content. The Panel noted however that the advertisement itself did not include any adult content, and that many members of the community including young children would not know what OnlyFans is.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: These are unsubstantiated claims which contradict facts. See previous responses.
Community Panel: Even if a child was to scan the code and access the site, all explicit images and videos are still hidden behind age-gating.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: There was NO age gating - one click to the porn page, even with device restrictions set to block adult content.
Community Panel: While text descriptions of adult content can be accessed by selecting ‘more info’ these are not obvious and would be unlikely to attract the attention of children.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT CORRECTION: This is an unsubstantiated claim which goes against everything we know about children's accidental and incidental exposure to pornography.
Community Panel: The Panel considered whether the image used in the advertisement was overtly sexual. The Panel noted the advertiser’s response that she is wearing swimwear and the photograph was taken at a public beach. The Panel considered that while the woman’s cleavage is visible her breasts and genitals are covered, and the level of nudity was not inappropriate for a beach setting.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: This is not a bikini ad. It's not a beach ad. It is an ad flogging a woman's body as men's masturbation material on a gigantic suburban streetside billboard to an all ages audience which includes children. The levels of nudity that Ad Standards considers appropriate for beach settings are irrelevant to discussions about how the gigantic porn billboard is harming community members.
Community Panel: Although the woman is depicted on her hands and knees this pose is not of itself suggestive of a sexual position, and there are no other elements in the advertisement to indicate otherwise.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Where men saw a woman posed 'doggy style' and 'ready for a pounding from the rear', Ad Standards saw..what exactly? Where community members saw (and tested) oversized QR codes and an Instagram handle giving 2-click access to a porn site to anyone with a mobile device camera, Ad Standards saw..what exactly?
Ad Standards' response to community concerns about the giant porn billboard was: 'Nothing to see here, move along'. Gaslighting at its finest.
Community Panel: The image does not draw attention to the genital region, indicate clear sexual innuendo, or is highly suggestive of a sexualised activity.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Porn pose. Porn platform. Porn subscriptions. Porn account. But sure, Ad Standards. Not a sexual image.
Community Panel: The image was consistent with the types of images used by individuals to promote their personal fashion, health or fitness brands, and the actual content of the advertisement was not overtly sexual or explicit.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: This comment reminded us of the time Ad Standards likened (porn brand) Playboy-owned sex shop Honey Birdette's porn themed shop window ad featuring a women's bare, exposed genital region to 'high fashion swimwear images'.
Community Panel: The Panel therefore decided that the advertisement was not overtly sexual and that the sexuality and nudity in the advertisement was treated with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience. Section 2.4 Conclusion The Panel determined the advertisement did treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and did not breach Section 2.4 of the Code.
COLLECTIVE SHOUT RESPONSE: Ad Standards sided with the advertiser, dismissing complaints from over 350 community members (which must be some sort of record). It effectively endorsed the sexual harassment of adults who do not wish to view the porn billboard and the sexual grooming of children who should be specifically protected from exposure to it.
We condemn Ad Standards' decision. We will be using Ad Standard's latest rubbish ruling to highlight the failures of ad self regulation and to ramp up our calls for a coregulated ad system which prioritises community members over vested interests.
Read the full Case Report here.
We have sent the list of 6,000 petition signatures to the land owners who - according to the City of Stirling - control the billboard contents, urging them to pull it down. Ad Standards' ruling does not give Ms Anna and Mr Calogero Ricciardello a free pass to leave the porn billboard up - especially when thousands of people have called for its removal.