The turkey vol au vents are a distant memory and pine needles continue to appear in unusual places. It must be time to reflect on Christmas 2015 ads, review what consumer complaints and ASA rulings teach us about ads in and around festive periods and the dos and don’ts when plotting and planning your Easter campaigns.

Take care linking alcohol with celebration

Some advertisers have tested the waters and learnt how to link specific alcohol brands with the festive period without breaking the rules. Last year a marketer made an unequivocal link between a well-known creamy liquor and the Christmas period. Following a similar ruling involving an ad that ran during Christmas 2014, the ASA rejected objections that the ad implied the success of a social occasion was dependent on alcohol. However, this is a sensitive area so if you’re planning on linking alcohol with Easter we recommend reading CAP Advice on Alcohol: general. Additionally, if you are planning on using Easter images that are of particular appeal to children when advertising alcohol, such as a cute little bunny rabbit, you should probably hop along and read CAP Advice on Alcohol: The use of cartoons, animals and characters.

Be careful with religious themes

A tongue-in-cheek ad for a fashion accessory was judged not to be offensive because it was likely to be interpreted by viewers as referring to the playful and ridiculous nature of the comparison with the Nativity story (along with the nature of consumerism), rather than ridiculing the story itself. While the ASA acknowledged that some people would find the theme distasteful, it ruled it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. However if referencing religious themes, remember, using comic or flippant treatments carries the inherent risk of causing serious offence, especially if using religious imagery central to a particular faith, for instance Easter. Read CAP Advice on Offence: Religion.

Avoid adult humour in untargeted ads

Innocent Christmas images were given a distinctly adult treatment when a couple of overly-amorous reindeer and a snowman with a root vegetable phallus appeared in a regional press ad for a Brighton café. The ASA judged that the ad was likely to cause offence and was irresponsibly placed in a free regional newspaper where it was likely to be seen by children. CAP advice on Targeting is always worth a read.

If in doubt, you can always contact the Copy Advice team for bespoke advice.

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