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ASA Ruling on Sona Tours Ltd

Sona Tours Ltd

112 Station Road


19 October 2011




Holidays and travel

Number of complaints:


Complaint Ref:



A TV ad, for a holiday tour company, seen on the 20 June 2011, featured a woman talking to a man sitting at a desk, smoking a cigar and wearing a cowboy hat. She said, in Hindi, “I’ve looked through all of these holiday brochures and I’m tired!” The man replied, “Mona darling, if you go with these guys, you’re just going to cry and cry.” He looked towards another man and said, “Rahat, take her to Sona.” A voice-over then detailed Sona Tours' special offers to Disneyland and other European destinations.


The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible in promoting smoking.



Sona Tours said that Imagine TV had approved the ad for broadcast.

Turner Broadcasting System/Imagine Dil Se stated that the ad was cleared by Imagine’s in-house compliance process and they did not believe that the ad violated the Code. They said that the ad promoted holidays and travel and did not promote or glorify smoking, and was not selling cigars and did not show a cigarette being lit. They said the ad portrayed the well-known negative Bollywood character Ajit, and that holding a cigar was part of his character sketch, but the emphasis in the ad was not on smoking. They did not consider that the ad was of particular interest to children and teenagers. They added that, to their knowledge, the name 'Sona Tours' and its emblem were not shared with any tobacco product.


Not upheld

The ASA considered that the main focus of the ad was to promote holidays and travel and did not consider that smoking was a significant part or focus of the ad, but was an incidental part of the character Ajit. We understood that Ajit, the character featured smoking, was a popular villain character in Bollywood films from the 1970s and early 80s and therefore did not consider that the character was likely to appeal to younger viewers. We did not consider that he was portrayed as an overtly aspirational figure or was likely to be seen to be promoting a glamorous or fashionable lifestyle. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as promoting smoking or the use of tobacco products.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 10.3 (Prohibited categories - tobacco), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

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