Spotify's Lily Allen advert banned after complaints over 'F**k You' title

The Advertising Standards Authority has ordered the music streaming service pull the promotional email

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Photo: Dean Chalkley

A Spotify advert referencing the new Lily Allen song 'Fuck You' has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The promotional email was investigated by the regulator after it received one complaint from a user that the music streaming service had caused offence by including the swear word. Read the ruling here.

Responding to the complaint, Spotify said that the song recommendation was not chosen to shock consumers or to drive traffic to its website by being controversial. It said that there was a clear difference between the deliberate use of such language and the context in which it was used in the ad.

The streaming service also made the case that users aged under 18 had to have the consent of a parent or guardian to join and those under 13 were not allowed to sign up at all.

It also argued that email recommendations took into account a user's listening history. This meant that the recipient of the email was likely to have listened to music of a similar genre to the songs recommended in the e-mail, or to music that other Spotify users who liked Lily Allen's music had also listened to. They said the recommendation was very unlikely to have been sent to a user who had only ever listened to music targeted at young teens or children and therefore it was also unlikely to have been sent to users that might find the language offensive.

However, the ASA banned the ad because it said although users would understand the use of "fuck you" to be the title of a song, they would not expect to receive promotional emails containing swearing, and as such it breached the regulator's code.

"While we considered Spotify users would understand the use of 'Fuck You' to be the title of a song, we considered recipients of e-mails from a general online music service would not expect them to include swearing," the ruling reads. "We considered the use of "Fuck" was likely to cause serious offence to some recipients of such e-mails and therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code."

It concludes: "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Spotify to ensure their future advertising contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence."

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