Wish.com reprimanded as nipple tassels and nudity appear on BBC app

ContextLogic – the parent company of online marketplace Wish.com – has been told to ensure its ads do not cause serious or widespread offence and to ensure they are appropriately targeted.

The warning, from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), comes after ads deemed “overtly sexual” appeared on third-party apps, including the BBC’s Good Food.

The first ad, seen on the BBC platform on 13 April, included images of a naked mannequin wearing a cape, a woman wearing a corset that partially exposed her breasts and revealed nipple tassels, and an image of a woman wearing stockings and underwear.

Three additional ads from Wish.com, seen in the Google News app and the Solitaire game on Google Play, featured nudity as well as an image of a prosthetic penis alongside the text "Dildo + Ass Sex Cup + Penis Sleeve ... 6cm Longer ... 4cm Bigger".

Several consumers complained that the ads were mistargeted, exposing children to inappropriate content, while others deemed the ads too “sexually graphic”.

The ASA said: “While Wish.com and their ad partner had used measures such as keyword filters and image analysis to try to target them to a suitable audience, it had not prevented the ads being shown in mediums where children were likely to be part of the audience.

“Because the ads contained explicit sexual images and had been placed in apps that were likely to be used by children, we concluded that the ads had been placed irresponsibly and breached the code.”

In response, ContextLogic said its ads were comprised of content from listings provided by third-party sellers on the Wish marketplace, but acknowledged the keyword filters and image analysis used by its ad partner were not sufficient in preventing the material from being displayed in general audience forums.

It added that Wish.com halted UK campaigns with the ad partner in May 2020, and it was not advertising through this partner “until they had more confidence in their ability to identify mature content and prevent it from being shown in general audience forums”.

Although in agreement that the content was not appropriate for all forums, ContextLogic said it did not think the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Immediate Media, which created the BBC Good Food app, said the ad which appeared on its platform was delivered as a result of the programmatic advertising in place, which allowed advertisers to retarget users based on their visiting history and had been used by Wish.com.

It agreed the ad was not suitable to be presented to users of BBC Good Food.