The ad, which is currently running on London Underground, features a line of crabs all replying "me too" to another crab saying, "I’m selling my house on Zoopla" and another crab saying "copy crabs". It has sparked criticism on social media and complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Consumers took to Twitter to call out what one user described as a "repulsive hijacking" saying "the people responsible should be held to account and donations made to women’s charities. Truly shameful if you profit from this disgusting ad."
A spokesman for the ASA said there had been one complaint about the Zoopla "me too" crabs appearing on the London Underground specifically on the grounds that it makes light of the recent #metoo sexual harassment campaign. In addition there were a two more complaints about animal cruelty and sexism but, because no ASA rules have been broken, the watchdog said no further action will be taken.
However, the spokesman added: "We carefully assessed the complaint but did not consider there were grounds for further action. While the ad does use the phrase "me too" we consider that viewers of the ad are likely to interpret its use as the crabs all agreeing to sell their houses on Zoopla, rather than a reference to recent sexual harassment claims and the resulting #metoo campaign. Therefore, in that context, we consider it unlikely that the ad will cause serious or widespread offence and for that reason, the ad does not break the rules."
Zoopla has apologised for the offence caused by the ad. A spokeswoman said: "The aim of our latest ad campaign is to demonstrate, in our usual light-hearted tone of voice, that Zoopla is a popular and well-known property website when selling or renting a home. In no way was the ad intended to carry any other meaning or allude to any other context and we apologise for any offence it might have caused."
The hermit crabs were part of 101’s first campaign for the property website, which launched last year.