An advert for Tunnocks Tea Cake featuring a female tennis player has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), following a single complaint that it was ‘offensive’.

The poster, seen on 6 November 2017, showed an image of a female tennis player holding a tea cake in place of a tennis ball at the top of her thigh, with her skirt raised at the hip. It was accompanied by the text “Where do you keep yours?” and “Serve up a treat”.

One person filed a complaint against the ad claiming it was “offensive and irresponsible”.

Tunnocks said it did not intend to offend anyone and argued that the ad appeared on a poster site adjacent to the SEC Hydro Arena in Glasgow to coincide with a charity tennis match and was created with a tennis audience in mind. It added that the creative execution and placement of the teacakes were a substitution to the normal placement of tennis balls.

However, the complaint was upheld by the ASA. The Authority noted that the ad depicted a woman lifting her tennis skirt while holding a tea cake beside her hip, with her bare thigh exposed and underwear clearly visible. It also acknowledged the context of the advert opposite an arena hosting a tennis match, but stated it “bore no relevance to the advertised product”.

It said: “We considered the phrase ‘serve up a treat’ would be understood to be a double entendre, implying the woman featured in the ad was the ‘treat’, and considered this was likely to be viewed as demeaning towards women. We considered that although the image was only mildly sexual in nature, when combined with the phrase ‘serve up a treat’ it had the effect of objectifying women by using a woman’s physical features to draw attention to the ad.

“In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some consumers and was socially irresponsible.”