Advertising Standards Authority clears Booking.com ad as it decides "booking" is not a swear word

 
Emma Haslett
Follow Emma
The ad featured a voiceover using "booking" in place of a rather less advertising-safe term (Source: Booking.com)

So it turns out "booking" isn't actually a rude word - or that's what the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decided, after an ad for travel website Booking.com became the most-complained about ad of all time.

The ad racked up just under 2,500 complaints over the voiceover, which went something like this:

The door opens, you hold your breath, and then you realise. You got it right. You got it booking right. Because it doesn’t get any better than this. It doesn’t get any booking better than this. Look at the view - look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed.
The ad was screened in cinemas before kids' films such as Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Paddington.
But Booking.com said the word had been used in a "positive tone", rather than the negative tone usually associated with swearwords.
The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) added that it had taken into account the "long history of word substitution" in British humour, which is often used in family entertainment.
In its decision, the ASA said:
We noted that the word ‘booking’ was used throughout the ad in a variety of contexts that each lent themselves to substitution with an expletive, and that many viewers would understand the use of ‘booking’ as word-play on the word ‘f***ing’.
However, we considered that the voiceover artist enunciated the word clearly and that it was sufficiently distinct so as not to be generally confused with the word ‘f***ing’.

It added that although some had been concerned the ad would encourage children to use the word "booking" in the same manner as the ad, "we did not consider that this was tantamount to having encouraged these children to use expletives".

We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to condone or encourage swearing among children

Decide for yourself what you think - here's the ad: