An air conditioning company has defended its billboard advert with the slogan “your wife is hot” – saying it is intended to make people laugh.
Nottingham-based Not Just Cooling decided to run the advert after seeing a similar one on a trip to the United States.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said they have received two complaints about the billboard which are being assessed to see if there are any “grounds for action”.
The managing director of the family-run business, Lee Davies, said he is now considering a follow-up advert with the slogan “your husband is hot” in order to “keep the balance”.
The display was originally intended for seven buses in Nottingham, but Adverta, which is responsible for promotions on buses and trams in the city, declined to use it as it could cause offence.
Social media users have also defended the advert and agreed with Mr Davies that the billboard was just “a bit of fun”.
One user, Naomi Buckingham, said: “I saw this, had a little chuckle to myself and carried on with my life.”
“If I had young children, I wouldn’t want them passing that on the way to school, because of the messages it gives them about society.”
Another, Graham Smith, said: “What is wrong with people who object to things like this? They are so sad.
“We need more fun in our lives and this billboard is both humorous AND acceptable.”
Asked if his customers saw it as a bit of fun, Mr Davies said: “That’s what it has always been. It’s to have fun, to make people chuckle.
“It’s all about politics in this country at the minute.
“I was in America and I saw a very similar sort of thing. I had never seen it done in this country before.”
He continued: “The customers who know me as a person know that there is nothing bad or negative to this billboard whatsoever.
“Personally, I have not had any negative feedback at all. (Our customers) have all been positive.”
Asked if the advert had helped draw in new customers, Mr Davies said: “It is too early to say but if I’m not busy on a day like today then it is time to pack up and sell umbrellas.”
Professor Carrie Paechter, director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, told the BBC she believed the advert to be “plain sexist”.
She said: “If I had young children, I wouldn’t want them passing that on the way to school, because of the messages it gives them about society.”
The owner of Space Outdoor Andrew Foster, who gave the go-ahead for the billboard, said he did not see it as offensive.
Mr Foster said: “We deemed it to be appropriate.
“We said we would do our best to promote to promote (Mr Davies’s) business and to get the best possible awareness for his company.
“If you have a look at the response (on social media), 95% of the comments are favourable.”
He added: “I stand by it. I do not see it as offensive.”
A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority said: “We have received two complaints about this ad.
“We’re assessing the complaints to establish whether there are any potential grounds for action but it’s important to stress that, at this stage, no decision has been made on whether an investigation is warranted.”
Explaining why the advert was considered for use on Nottingham buses, a spokeswoman for Adverta said: “In every campaign we process we always think objectively and, if there is the slightest chance that the artwork could cause any offence to the public, we will always refer the design onto the vehicle fleet due to hold the advert.
“In this case it was Nottingham City Transport and between us we agreed that there was room for the design to be potentially contentious. For that reason, we worked closely with our client to re-work their design and we’ve developed a variety of fresh designs that everybody is happy with.
“We wholeheartedly believe that our client meant no offence with the style of advertisement he initially wanted, but we have a responsibility to the public and so have to remain within our company guidelines.”