A new television advert from automotive and bicycle specialists Halfords has been given the all-clear by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) despite receiving a number of complaints from disgruntled viewers.
> The advert sees an older gentleman, Bob, fitting a battery to the younger David's car. Once the task is completed, a sheepish David thanks Bob for his time and asks if he can "return the favour".
At this point, a rather creepy Bob turns around with a paintbrush and palette and utters: "There is one thing. Pose for me David. I'm tired of painting you from memory."
The young man in the stripy shirt sheepishly smiles and the advert cuts away to an exterior shot of the garage where the two men have been awkwardly 'enjoying' each other's company.
A voiceover then states: "At Halfords we fit batteries in the car park from £6.99. Much cheaper than a favour."
At this point the camera pans to a series of drawings, presumably crafted by the fair hands of Bob, that portray David stripped to the waist and sporting the bottom half of a Greek centaur.
Other doodles show David naked, bending over and crawling and another where he is sat on a stool – naked – facing away from the painter.
Other viewers reportedly stated the advert drew parallels with Jimmy Savile and with "how youngsters were groomed for sexually explicit pictures by paedophiles".
The ASA reviewed the complaints but decided against banning the advert, stating: "The ASA understood that in an ad based on the theme of owing an unpleasant favour, an older man asking a younger man to pose for him could be considered inappropriate.
"However, we considered that the overall tone of the ad was supposed to be light-hearted and surreal and, while Bob was noticeably older than David, David was clearly a grown man in his twenties.
"We considered that some viewers might interpret the events of the ad to mean that Bob thought about David in a sexual way but, while we noted that Bob clearly considered David a muse for his paintings, as evidenced by his comment "I'm tired of painting you from memory", we did not consider that his actions or behaviour went further than that.
"Although we acknowledged that David looked uncomfortable at being asked to pose for Bob, it did not seem to be because he was concerned about Bob's intentions or thought Bob was interested in him in a sexual way.
"Bob seemed shy and embarrassed when asking David to pose for him and we considered that David's reaction was an awkward laugh of disbelief rather than one of fear or concern."
It concluded: "We considered that any sexual innuendo or imagery in the ad was subtle and was unlikely to be noticed by children and we therefore concluded that the ad was suitable for children to see."
Bosses at Halfords said the advert was 'light-hearted' and 'surreal' and stated that it was supposed to be viewed in a 'playful' manner.
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