City councillors, in their unofficial role as moral guardians, have banned a Reebok promotion that promised a better bottom and legs because it featured the word bum.
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The advert, showing a pair of bare legs sporting Reebok’s new EasyTone running shoes, was to be emblazoned across taxis in the city as part of a £4 million global marketing campaign. The cabs would also have carried the slogan Better Legs And Bum With Every Step, and the branding of sports retailer Greaves.
But the city council’s licensing committee have decided the advert was just too racy, despite the fact that the bum in question was not actually visible and that cabs in Glasgow already advertise lap dancing venues.
At the meeting which vetoed the proposal, one councillor suggested that additional clothing could have allowed the advert to pass the test, asking: “What’s wrong with a pair of ankle socks?”
Another asked why there were legs in an advert for running shoes and “why do they need to go right up to her backside?”
Committee member Ann Marie Millar, who voted for refusal, queried the relevance of the advert to the product and, when the proclaimed benefits were explained, said that as she did not wear trainers, she “wouldn’t know”.
The EasyTone ad campaign is understood to be the biggest TV spend of any sports brand since 2004. It is displayed on billboards in New York, Boston, Berlin, Barcelona and Madrid, and has run on TV during Britain’s Got Talent, Gok Wan, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty.
The advert features a picture of a bottom, but this had been removed from the proposals for the Glasgow taxis before it went to councillors.
The licensing committee’s policy on taxi advertising states: “Advertisements will not be permitted which display nude or semi-nude figures in a sexually provocative manner; or are likely to offend public taste; or depict men, women or children as sexual objects.” Adverts will also be banned if they “are likely to cause a distraction or nuisance to other road users”.
The committee was split, with Labour’s Tommy Morrison and the SNP’s John McLaughlin voting in favour, while Millar, Willie O’Rourke and chairman Gilbert Davidson, all Labour, went against it.
When questioned about the double standards of allowing taxis to advertise lap dancing the applicant, from Greaves Sports, was instructed to stop talking.
When he persisted and demanded an explanation, a council official was sent for to remove him from the room.
Stephen McCranor, Greaves’ communications director, said the move was unhelpful in the current economic climate, adding that it shows “a lack of commercial awareness and regard”.
He added: “The committee appeared to object on moral grounds due to the use of bare legs, ironic, when outside the City Chambers you see taxis advertising lap dancing venues while we’re simply advertising a pair of shoes which helps tone up the legs and backside in line with the campaign by Reebok.”
Kath Smith, brand director for Reebok UK, said: “The EasyTone advertising is intended to clearly communicate the benefits of the footwear in a fun way.”
Bum is mild slang for the word bottom, or buttocks.
The word was first used in 1387 by John de Trevisa referring to another man’s case of piles. It was first used in Scotland in 1514.
William Shakespeare used the word bum in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the 16th century.
Bum is also used as an insult, often referring, in American English, to a homeless person.
The word is commonly used in modern sayings.
To be given the bum’s rush is to be forced out of somewhere, while bummer denotes a bad experience.