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Sun's Page Three date advert banned by ASA

A copy of The Sun Image copyright PA

An advert for the Sun's fantasy football competition offering the prize of a date with a Page Three model has been banned by the standards watchdog.

An email sent to subscribers of Dream Team said those who recruited 10 players or more to their league would be entered into the draw for a date.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received 1,036 complaints over the "sexist and offensive" advert.

It ruled it must not appear again in its current form.

The Sun said it was "disappointed" by the ruling and that the email and prize was "an obviously light-hearted marketing exercise".

'Demeaning'

The ASA said: "In the context of the ad, we considered that to offer a date with a woman as a reward for success in the game was demeaning to women and objectified those offered as prizes.

"We also considered that the wording 'We might even let you pick which one, so feel free to start your research now' further enhanced the impression that the women were simply objects to be selected at the whim and enjoyment of the winner, and had no choice in the matter themselves."

It ruled: "Because we considered that the email presented the women as objects to be won, we concluded that it was sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible."

The ASA said it had told the Sun to ensure future advertising "contained nothing that was socially irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence".

Many of the complaints were submitted as part of a campaign led by SumOfUs.org, which said the Sun had reached "a new low". More than 55,000 people signed an online petition telling the tabloid to "drop this offensive prize".

Many of the complainants also believed the date offer was an incentive to gamble and also therefore socially irresponsible.

'Accept judgement'

News UK, which owns the Sun, said Page Three "celebrities" had been connected with Dream Team promotional activity for about six years.

The Sun said approximately 93% of the recipients of the email were male and comprised either previous or current Dream Team players, and it did not believe the email would cause offence to these people.

It also said the date with a Page Three girl was not the only prize on offer - customers could also win a paintballing session or £50.

A Sun spokesman said: "We note that there have been countless campaigns of a broadly similar, light-hearted nature run by other companies - including those involving a 'Win a date with' scenario - which have not been ruled 'socially inappropriate' by the ASA.

"We will abide by the judgement, but wish to register our deep disappointment at this decision."

Page Three has been the subject of debate for many years, with campaigners saying it should be removed because it is sexist and outdated.

Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sun, hinted last year it could be replaced with a "halfway house" of "glamorous fashionistas".

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