The Advertising Santa clause?
1 December 2010
The season of goodwill is upon us. A time of glad tidings, mince pies, carols and film repeats. What it is not meant to be, however, is a time of angry complaints to the ASA. But in what has become, like Christmas, something of an annual event an advertiser somewhere during the festive period will end up being as popular as an over-cooked brussel sprout.
Why the complaints? It’s all about the kids. While advertisers are perfectly free to enter into the Christmas spirit, if their ads inadvertently destroy the magic of Christmas for children, they will find the public’s festive cheer in short supply.
Of course no advertiser deliberately sets out to upset children and, in turn, their parents or guardians. But a common mishap that seems to happen every year sees an advertiser unintentionally produce a campaign that suggests (wrongly, of course) that Father Christmas does not exist. Whether an ad features parents hiding presents, or filling stockings, if there is even the remotest hint that some presents might not be delivered by the big chap with the reindeer, then the ASA is promptly inundated with complaints.
Although the ASA has never had to take formal action against an advertiser on these grounds, the complaints we receive from parents do highlight the care advertisers should take. The Advertising Codes do not contain a specific ‘Santa’ clause, but they do place a particular emphasis on protecting children from harm or distress.
It might seem like common sense but the ASA is reminding advertisers to tread carefully when putting their Christmas ads together. It benefits advertisers to create ads that bring about yuletide joy rather than a sack full of complaints to the ASA!