Sofa King boss furious as ‘offensive’ shop advert is barred by industry watchdog

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THE owner of a furniture shop in Northampton is “furious” the advertising slogan he has used for a decade has been banned.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) yesterday banned Sofa King from advertising its prices as ‘Sofa King Low,’ because the strapline was “likely to cause serious and widespread offence.”

Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo after the ruling, Mark Kypta, owner of Sofa King, based in Towcester Road, Far Cotton, said: “I agree with what the ASA stand for, but I think in this case they’ve got it wrong. We’re going to fight it all the way.”

The decision followed three complaints from readers of the Northampton Herald and Post newspaper following an advertisement that appeared on August 4 last year.

Mr Kypta, who has been using the slogan since he began trading 10 years ago, said the decision, based on three complaints, was “ridiculous” and he would not be re-branding his shop front or vehicles. He said the advertisement had appeared in the free weekly newspaper every week for 10 years without receiving any complaints.

The ASA ruled the advertisement, which read “The Sofa King – Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!”, breached codes governing responsible advertising and must not appear again in its current form.

The advertising watchdog said the slogan had previously prompted complaints to police in 2004, although these were not pursued.

In the ASA adjudication it was said: “They said the slogan simply used their company name to refer to pricing and that the words had not been changed or run together or punctuation used in a way that was intended to cause offence. They did not believe the slogan caused serious or widespread offence.”

But the ASA upheld the challenge that the slogan was offensive, and while it noted the phrase did use the advertiser’s company name, it considered that it could be interpreted as a derivative of a swear word, which consumer research had found to be a word so likely to offend that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product.”

Mr Kypta said: “For them to ban the advertising I find absolutely ridiculous.

“It takes one person to complain about an advertisement and they have to take it seriously. Thousands of people have seen the advertisements.

“On our Facebook page people have said they find it more offensive people have actually complained. The public are behind us and think it’s crazy.”

He compared small business Sofa King to global fashion retailer FCUK, saying: “They wouldn’t dream of banning their name.”