The Advertising Standards Authority has investigated Tesco Mobile's recent ad campaign, ruling that a number of its advertisements were likely to cause "serious and widespread offence".
A series of newspaper ads, digital outdoor posters and a Twitter post were investigated after 52 complaints, with all but one ad having the complaints upheld.
Tesco Mobile was advertising its service in comparison to other networks, using the words "shiitake", "pistachio", and "fettucine" as a pun alternative to an expletive.
In its ruling
, the ASA said it considered the words alluded to in the phrases "What a load of shiitake" and "They’re taking the pistachio" would be understood by many people - and were words "so likely to offend that they should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether they were used in a tongue-in-cheek manner".
In addition to ruling that five of the ads breached the 'Harm and Offence' rule of the Committee of Advertising Practice, the ASA also noted that the outdoor and online ads were likely to be seen by children and therefore inappropriate for display.
As a result, the ads must not appear again in the versions that caused complaints to be upheld.