ASA Adjudication on Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc t/a
26 October 2011
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for a supermarket, viewed on 17 July 2011, showed several unhappy children; one child was shown playing on the computer, another child was shown en route to a fancy dress party and a third child was shown playing football. The children in the ad appeared to cheer up at the prospect of a visit to Morrisons to obtain Walt Disney cards. The ad then showed a child in a Morrisons’ store feverishly opening a packet of Walt Disney cards. The child’s face was illuminated in gold when he discovered a gold card. The accompanying voice-over stated, “Find a gold card, and you could even win one of a thousand stays at Disneyland Paris.” On-screen text stated “1000 STAYS AT Disneyland PARIS TO BE WON”.
Three viewers, who believed the ad was targeted at children, objected that the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged children to ask their parents to obtain the Walt Disney cards for the chance to win a holiday to Disneyland Paris.
Morrisons said that the ad was targeted at adults. They said it was broadcast each day during the week commencing 11 July 2011. They said that that was during school term time and therefore should not have been seen by children. They said that the vast majority of ads shown on the weekend of 16 and 17 July appeared between programmes intended for adults.
Morrisons said that the promotion was designed to provide parents and guardians with the opportunity to win a stay at Disneyland Paris. They said that the competition had required a £30 minimum spend and that the average weekly spend of their customers was around £70. They therefore believed that the average consumer, completing their weekly shopping, would be eligible for a pack of cards and would not require anything to be purchased for children.
Morrisons said that the ad showed the parents asking their children if they would like to go to Morrisons to do the weekly shop. They said the ad did not encourage children to ask their parents to be taken to Morrisons.
Clearcast said that the ad showed children in typical scenes from family life; being beaten at computer games by their father, having to attend a party in fancy dress or losing at sport with siblings. They said the ad showed parents cheering up their children by taking them on the weekly shopping trip, which had the added excitement of a chance to win a family holiday to Disneyland Paris.
Clearcast said that the children in the ad were not pestering their parents to take them shopping, nor were they exhorting them to buy any products or services. They said the children were passive in their interaction and that it was the parents who asked them if they would like to go shopping.
The ASA noted that the ad appeared on several children’s television channels and would therefore have been seen by children. We also noted that the ad featured children and offered collectable Disney cards, as well as the chance to win a holiday to Disneyland Paris. We considered these to be factors which would hold a strong appeal amongst children. We noted that in each family scenario, the children were offered a trip to Morrisons in an attempt cheer them up and that in each instance the children’s mood was shown to improve at the prospect of visiting Morrisons. We also noted that in the supermarket scene, the child was shown to hurriedly take the cards from an adult in excitement and eagerly open the packet. We noted that upon discovering a winning card the child’s face was illuminated in gold and the child was shown to be overjoyed at having won. We also noted that the final scene featured a child waking up an adult early in the morning to go to Morrisons. In that context, we considered that the ad depicted the opportunity to collect Disney cards and to win a trip to Disneyland Paris as something that would be highly desirable to children.
We were therefore concerned that the ad could encourage children to ask their parents or guardians to visit Morrisons in order to obtain the Disney cards and the chance to win a holiday to Disneyland Paris. On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising) and 5.9 (Children).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.