ASA Adjudication on Yoplait UK Ltd
Yoplait UK Ltd
St Andrews House
30 May 2012
Food and drink
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for a children's yoghurt product, seen in March 2012 featured the inside of a fridge and cartoon Frubes characters lined up behind one another and marching in unison behind the leader, who was dressed as an army Sergeant Major. The Sergeant Major initiated the following singing exchange with the solders: "We are Frubes and we are proud!", "rip our heads off, sing it loud!", "suck our guts out". The endframe featured the Sergeant Major standing beside a pack of Frubes saying "Frubes. Rip their heads off and suck their guts out."
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with no timing restriction.
Nine viewers challenged whether the ad, and particularly the phrase "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out", was inappropriate for children to see and therefore irresponsible.
Yoplait UK Ltd (Yoplait) explained that the Frubes brand had been advertised on TV for several years with various creative content that included the strapline "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out". They said they considered the strapline as referring to the Frubes characters only, and did not consider it offensive. They said the strapline had become an integral part of the Frubes advertising.
Clearcast explained that they originally approved the strapline "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out" in an earlier version of the ad seven years ago. When approving the strapline, they had considered that the animated and light-hearted cartoon nature of the ad would not lead viewers, in particular children, to become upset by the subject matter. They had also considered that children would not identify with the yoghurt characters enough for them to wish to emulate them and repeat the song, which they felt was not particularly catchy. They explained that had there been accompanying visuals showing the characters ripping off heads and/or sucking their insides, then they would have considered applying a scheduling restriction. They believed the ad was socially responsible, was scheduled correctly and was unlikely to cause widespread harm and offence.
The ASA understood that the ad had been cleared without any scheduling restrictions and had been broadcast on various children's TV channels, including Nickelodeon and Boomerang. We noted that the Frubes brand had been using the strapline "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out" for seven years. We also noted that the strapline was made in the context of animated cartoon Frubes characters and was not directed at anyone. We understood that the product was a fruit-flavoured yoghurt which came in slim plastic pouches and was consumed by tearing off the top of the pouch and sucking the contents out, and the strapline reflected this.
We noted that the ad did not feature the animated characters engaging in acts of violence towards each other and we considered that the language used was mild and relevant to how the product would be eaten. We noted two viewers reported that their young children had repeated the phrase. We considered that although some viewers might find the strapline distasteful and not want young children to hear or repeat the phrase, it was unlikely to cause harm or distress to children. For these reasons, we concluded that the ad, and particularly the phrase "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out", was not inappropriate for children to see and was not irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.