Amazon has defended the use of the word “c**t” on a Christmas card as “light-hearted.”
Earlier this year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a product listing which appeared on Amazon.co.uk for a Christmas card featuring the text, “You’re a c**t. Sorry, I meant to say ‘Merry Christmas’.” [Asterisks are ours - the full word appeared on the card]
The ASA said it had pulled the listing on the grounds that it was likely to cause “serious or widespread” offense, citing the harm and offense rules in the advertising code.
Amazon has argued the c-word was used in a “light-hearted” fashion that was unlikely to cause outrage to any specific group. In an appeal to the ASA, Amazon said the card was “not offensive, aggressive or lewd in its message. It was meant as a bit of light-hearted, irreverent fun.”
The site added that the language used by the card “did not target any particular group, nor was it likely to cause offence to any particular race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.” It argued that a product should not be banned because it offends a “small minority.”
Nicola Mendelsohn, chairwoman of ad agency Karmarama, disagreed strongly with Amazon’s view. Speaking to The Guardian, she described the c-word as “one of the most vulgar, dreadful words” She added, “I’m really surprised that Amazon don’t think it is offensive to people, to women. Germaine Greer said it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with the genuine power to shock.”
In its statement, Amazon also suggested the ASA should not be ruling on the card (pictured below – pixelation is ours) at all, as it was a product, rather than an advert. The ASA countered by saying the product listing was an advertisement, and therefore fell under the regulation body’s purview.
The company behind the potty-mouthed card also joined in the debate. Smellyourmum.com pointed out that the BBC had broadcast a documentary about the c-word, entitled The History of the C-Word, in 2007. Because of the documentary’s wide reach, the card-maker felt it was justified in using the word on a Christmas card.
The ASA concluded by saying the word was “so likely to offend it should not be used at all in marketing communications, even when it was relevant to the name of the product.”
The Amazon c-word furore seems to have divided Twitter (see below); where do you stand on the ASA’s ban and Amazon’s defiant stance?
Sorry, but I’m with Amazon on this one. guardian.co.uk/media/2013/mar…
— Barry Adams (@badams) March 28, 2013
Dear Amazon. You can’t have the C-word on your website. You just can’t. Don’t try to justify it guardian.co.uk/media/2013/mar…
— Kamahl Santamaria (@KamahlAJE) March 28, 2013
— Nat Ives (@natives) March 28, 2013
— Sam Missingham (@samatlounge) March 28, 2013
[Top image via Shutterstock]