When we hear of an advert being banned from TV, you’d expect it to be pretty controversial, offensive or misleading. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes the most innocent looking of adverts can face the chop – a decision that’s made by The Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA is an independent regulator for advertising across all media, ensuring that each ad is legal, decent, appropriate and truthful. Ticking all these boxes can sometimes be difficult, even for the big brands. Here are five TV ads that did not pass the check, and why.
Morrisons – Burger advert /2014
Earlier this year, supermarket chain Morrisons was accused of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle for children. After broadcast, ASA received a lot of complaints (mainly from parents) that this ad encouraged poor nutrition habits in children. The ASA agreedsaying: ‘We noted the girl grabbed all the salad in her hand and dropped it on the side in a careless manner, before placing her hands around the bun, ready to eat and smiling, which we considered suggested she was not going to eat the salad later.Because we considered the ad placed an emphasis on the burger being the preferable option to the salad, we concluded it condoned poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, especially in children, and that it disparaged good dietary practice.’ As obesity and unhealthy lifestyles are two very big issues today in the UK, it’s understandable that the ASA decided to remove the ad from the view of impressionable children.
Mercedes-Benz – Beauty is nothing without brains /2011
This advert can be viewed as funny, and a smart way of making sure the ad stays in peoples’ minds. But if you really think about it, the ad is quite sexist, stereotypical and anti-feminist. Look closely. There are only men in the background, which indicates that only men are smart enough to be in the library for the right purpose. Also, the librarian is very de-sexed, insinuating that women with higher intelligence are not attractive, or boring. The fact that a woman is compared to a car isn’t great either; the ad tells us that a car is better than a woman because besides beauty it also has brains. However could be possible that Mercedes Benz is mocking the ad of another car manufacturer, which only concentrates on promoting a beautiful design of a car.Either way, it was banned.
Lucozade – Hydrates you better than water / 2014
The ad features two groups of men running on treadmills – one group drinking water and another drinking Lucozade. While running, they were monitored by lab technicians. The men drinking water quickly became tired and dropped out of the competition one by one, leaving the Lucozade drinkers victorious. Lucozadethen made a claim whichwas to be the reason for the ad being banned, ‘Lucozade hydrates and fuels you better than water’. ASA received 63 complaints, including one from the Natural Hydration Council, arguing that the claim was false. The main reason for banning the ad was that ‘the claims were not accurately reflected in the advert’. The ASA said that ‘Lucozade did not make it clear that the benefits of the drink would only be reaped during prolonged endurance exercise’.
Toyota – Happy Driving / 2014
This ad, which appeared on TV, ITV Player and YouTube received 74 complaints for promoting irresponsible driving. For this reason it was banned by ASA. The ad shows people driving in a Toyota Yaris, listening to Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked out of Heaven’ and dancing and singing along to the song. It shows the drivers being distracted by the passengers and music. Plus, at the end of the ad, a female driver was so into the song that she closed her eyes while driving, which many complainantspointed out as being totally irresponsible. Toyota argued that the streets were devoid of traffic and pedestrians, so the ad did not show real driving circumstances. They also said that the speed was not shown in the ad which does not make the driving shown irresponsible.They admitted that people in the car were shown ‘having fun’, but argued it was not illegal and that they did not agree that the lady in the ad had her eyes closed at any point. Still, it got the chop!
Aldi – Swap and Save / 2014
Food supermarket giants constantly compete to win customers. 2014 became a testing time for the ‘big four’ supermarkets -ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainbury’s – as Aldi and Lidl continued to rise in popularity among the UK population due to their claims of lower prices. To market this idea of ‘being cheaper than any other supermarket’ Aldi created an ad where a ‘real’ mum talks about her savings (£45) after she swapped from her usual store to Aldi. However ASDA made five complaints to protect itself from a weakened reputation. Firstly it pointed out that in the commercial, the family did not buy the same products, thus the amount spent cannot be comparable. In addition, the survey did not include any particular items bought at two stores which could not make the comparison fair. It also said that the price comparisons were made in April to May 2013 and therefore the results appeared on the commercial were not recent. ASDA also said that it would be wrong to say that it’s always possible for a shopper to save £45. Once all of these complaints were reviewed by ASA, ASDA claimed victory and the Aldi ad was banned.