ASA Adjudication on no added sugar Ltd
no added sugar Ltd
Unit 1, New North House
202-208 New North Road
24 February 2010
Number of complaints:
A children’s clothing catalogue for a new winter range used the theme of rubbish, concentrating on the type of things that people throw away on a daily basis including empty plastic carrier bags and refuse sacks full of waste. It showed various pictures of children sitting in close proximity to coloured ‘rubbish bags’ or holding items of rubbish on or near their heads.
Six complainants objected that the catalogue was irresponsible because it featured images of children with plastic carrier bags on or near their heads, an action which could be copied by children, leading to their physical harm.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
No added sugar Ltd (no added sugar) said their clothing catalogues did not resemble traditional children's wear catalogues and that their approach was more innovative and fashion-led. They explained that each of their catalogues had a story and that this particular one was entitled "We're Rubbish". They said text in the catalogue further clarified the theme and stated "Welcome to winter at no added sugar and our catalogue story, tongue-in-cheekily named 'We're rubbish' a tribute to all the paraphernalia that we readily throw away". They said they didnt see any problem with the images in the catalogue because they were stylised and modern and were entirely within the context of the catalogue story. They argued that the catalogue was directed entirely at adults who would purchase clothes for a child and that the images were not intended to be anything other than a playful tribute to the rubbish theme.
The ASA noted the catalogue targeted adults who would buy clothing for their children. However, we considered that because the catalogue was targeted at adults with children who were the same age as the models featured, it was likely to be kept in households where children lived. We noted the catalogue featured images of babies, toddlers, children, pre-teens and early teens modelling clothes from the autumn/winter range and considered it likely that children, pre-teens and early teens within the household would be attracted to the catalogue because they would have an interest in the clothes. We considered that some younger children might also have an interest in looking at the catalogue because it featured images of children their own age. We also noted some of images showed clearly identifiable supermarket carrier bags which most households were likely to have and to which children might have access.
We acknowledged that adults were likely to understand that the images used were based on the Were Rubbish theme, but considered that most children would not be aware that the images were a tongue-in-cheek play on words. We also considered the images were not sufficiently stylised to prevent them from appearing to be anything other than realistic and were likely to be attractive to children.
Because the catalogue showed images of children playing with, and lying on or near plastic carrier bags, the ASA considered that young children who saw the catalogue might try to copy the images of children playing with plastic bags. Because childrens safety was potentially at risk if the images were emulated, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) 10.1 (Safety) 47.1, 47.2b and 47.2d (Children).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told no added sugar to take care when depicting images of children in their catalogue in the future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)