The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) has banned a video-on-demand ad from Dairylea over safety concerns.
The authority made the ruling following fourteen complaints challenging whether the ad condoned or encouraged unsafe behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.
The ad appeared on ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5 – last August. It featured two girls hanging upside down from a football goal post, having a conversation about where food went when you hang upside down.
Dairylea ad banned
One of the girls opened a Dairylea Cheese Triangle and proceeded to eat it, whilst hanging upside down.
The children in the ad were six and eight years of age. The ad included two parents in the background, supervising the children.
Mondelez UK Ltd said the intention of its ad was to show parents to allow their children to have more freedom.
The company argued that although the children were hanging upside down, they were nearly touching the floor and therefore were at a safe distance so as to not fall and hurt themselves.
Based on research they had seen, to which they provided links, the human body was able to move food into the stomach through peristalsis, regardless of gravity.
They referred to a study that they said supported their view that a position a person eats in, including when eating upside down, does not impact their ability to swallow.
Also, they referred to a letter in a journal dedicated to the study of resuscitation. They said it stated that being in a head-down position was recommended during a choking incident.
Based on the research, and because Dairylea was a soft food, they considered there was a “very low risk” of choking when eating upside down.
Clearcast endorsed Mondelez’s comments. It particularly highlighted that they had given the ad an ‘ex-kids’ scheduling restriction which ensured that children’s exposure to it was limited.
Additionally, the ad was for a soft food, which, in their opinion, would not have been a choking hazard.
ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 said they scheduled the ad on their VOD services as per Clearcasts’ scheduling restrictions.
Why did the ASA ban it?
However, the ASA agreed with the fourteen views who complained.
It argued that the “common and recognisable” setting would make it “easy” for children to emulate the specific scene depicted in the ad.
“Furthermore, because the ad featured two young children in a realistic and familiar environment, who were posing and attempting to answer a question about how their bodies worked, we considered children would identify with them and their curiosity, and be encouraged to emulate the behaviour,” it said in a statement.
“Although the ad was specifically for a soft cheese, we considered that younger children would be encouraged by the ad to mimic the behaviour in other settings and with other foods.”
“Therefore, we considered the ad condoned and encouraged eating whilst hanging upside down.”
The Child Accident Prevention Trust’s view is that the scenario depicted in the ad represented a situation where there was potentially a “high risk” of choking.
The ASA considers the risk of eating whilst upside down as an “unsafe” practice.
Ad breached CAP Code
Therefore, it concluded that a scheduling restriction was insufficient to reduce the risk of harm. It stated that the ad breached the code.
According to the authority, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules:
- 4.5 (Harm and offence);
- 5.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4 (Children);
- 30.6, 30.10;
- 30.15 (Advertising rules for on-demand services regulated by statute).
It stressed that the ad must not appear again in the form complained of.
The authority told Mondelez UK Ltd to ensure their advertising “did not condone or encourage unsafe practices”.
A Mondelez spokesperson said:
“We recognise and will abide by the ASA’s decision. However, we are disappointed by the ruling.”
“It was aimed at adults (parents) rather than young children and was deliberately scheduled away from programming likely to appeal to children under 16. As such, we believe it was unlikely to encourage ‘copycat’ behaviour by young children.”
“We remain committed to responsible advertising and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all relevant UK regulations.”