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ASA Adjudication on ASDA Stores Ltd

ASDA Stores Ltd

Asda House
Great Wilson Street
Leeds
LS11 5AD

Date:

30 January 2013

Media:

Television, Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Retail

Number of complaints:

620

Agency:

Saatchi & Saatchi Ltd

Complaint Ref:

A12-213056

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Three issues were investigated, of which all three Not upheld.

Ad

A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and an online video, seen on the marketer’s own website and YouTube, for ASDA supermarkets:

a. The TV ad featured a mother carrying out various tasks in preparation for Christmas, such as buying a Christmas tree, writing Christmas cards, purchasing groceries, decorating the home, wrapping presents and cooking the Christmas dinner. The voice-over at the end of the ad stated, "It doesn’t just happen by magic. Behind every great Christmas, there's mum, and behind mum there’s Asda."

b. The VOD ad, seen on ITV player, was identical in content to the TV ad.

c. The online video, on www.asda.com, was identical in content to the TV ad.

d. The online video, seen on the ASDA channel of YouTube, was identical in content to the TV ad.

Issue

1. The majority of complainants objected that the ad was offensive and sexist, because it reinforced outdated stereotypes of men and women in the home.

2. A number of complainants objected that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to single fathers or to men who played a primary domestic role.

3. A number of complainants objected that the ad was offensive and distressing to children or families who had lost mothers.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

BCAP Code

Response

1., 2. & 3. Asda said the ad focused on the role of the mother at Christmas. They acknowledged the ad did not reflect universal experience, but said that extensive consumer research and feedback indicated that the majority of their customers identified with the ad's representation of Christmas. They said they surveyed 1896 mothers who shopped at Asda and found that eight out of ten mothers said that they would be responsible for the food and present shopping, and wrapping the presents. They believed the ad reflected common experience; rather than outdated stereotypes.

Asda said that whilst they appreciated the role of mother and father differed between households, they intended to portray a scene which reflected the Christmas experience of the majority of their customers. They also pointed out that the father played a positive role: helping with preparations; hosting the family; and looking after the children.

Asda acknowledged that there may be incidental circumstances in which a child or family member could be upset by the loss of a loved one. However, they believed the ad portrayed an informed and representative view of Christmas events.

Clearcast believed the ad portrayed a Christmas scene that would be understood by a large number of households. They pointed out that the father was shown helping the mother and said the ad celebrated the mother in a positive way. They also said the ad did not suggest that the scene was the model of how every family should be.

ITV said the ad was scheduled to appear around programmes with a ‘Housewives’ audience profile and believed the ad was suitable for that audience. They said the ad depicted a broadly positive stereotypical depiction of the role of mothers at Christmas, but argued that, in general, stereotypical portrayals were inevitably based on truisms. For those reasons, they believed ad (b) did not breach the Code.

Youtube said that because ad (d) was hosted on Asda’s YouTube channel as general content and had not been used in Google or YouTube's advertising services, it was not subject to YouTube’s advertising policies. They said if the ad was subject to those policies, it would not violate them.

Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted Asda had carried out research to ascertain the experience of mothers at Christmas and discovered that of the 1896 mothers surveyed, 86% said that within their household they were mainly in charge of shopping for presents, 84% said they were mainly in charge of wrapping Christmas presents and 78% said they were mainly in charge of shopping for food for Christmas. We noted the ad focused on the mother’s role in the Christmas preparations, however, we noted the father was also shown to assist in those preparations. We considered viewers were likely to understand the ad was not prescriptive of the experience of all at Christmas; rather it reflected Asda’s view of the Christmas experience for a significant number of their customers. We therefore considered the ad was not likely to be seen as condoning or encouraging harmful discriminatory behaviour, or reinforcing negative stereotypes of men or women in general, and, for those reasons, considered it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

On this point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 4.1, 4.2 and 4.8 (Harm and offence) and ads (b), (c) and (d) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them to be in breach.

2. Not upheld

We acknowledged that single fathers and men with primary domestic responsibilities might find the presentation of the mother playing the central role in the Christmas preparations distasteful. However, we considered the ad was not prescriptive of the experience of all at Christmas and instead reflected Asda’s view of the Christmas experience for a significant number of their customers. We also noted the ad showed the father assisting in the Christmas preparations. We therefore considered the ad was not likely to cause serious offence to single fathers or to men who played a primary domestic role and concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.

On this point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 4.1, 4.2 and 4.8 (Harm and offence) and ads (b), (c) and (d) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them to be in breach.

3. Not upheld

We acknowledged that the theme of the ad might upset some viewers, including children, who had lost mothers. However, we did not consider the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence or distress to those viewers. On that basis, we concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.

On this point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 4.1, 4.2 and 4.8 (Harm and offence) and ads (b), (c) and (d) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them to be in breach.

Action

No further action necessary.

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