An internet video, for the online clothing retailer Asos.com, appeared on YouTube and the Entertainmentwise website. It showed a man pulling down large Christmas decorations, which crushed a man. He was also shown pushing a radio into a bath in which a man was sitting as well as shutting a woman in a chest freezer. On-screen text stated "HAVE A KILLER CHRISTMAS".
The complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, in particular because it could be seen by children who might emulate the scenes shown.
Asos.com Ltd (Asos) said the campaign, which featured the Asossin, who was cool, stylish, confident and had a wicked sense of humour, was designed specifically to target their core menswear demographic. The Asossin eliminated Christmas clichés, in obvious juxtaposition to the glitz and glamour of Christmas, so others could go on enjoying the party. They believed the ad was clearly tongue-in-cheek and their research showed it had been received as such by their audience. They said no gruesomeness, killing or death was shown in the ad; only activities such as shutting the freezer, when the woman was shown banging the lid as the Asossin walked away.
Asos believed the implied references to homicide were not offensive and said they had worked with their media buying agency to choose advertising space where they could best target the specific intended audience. The ad was shown only in digital spaces, because digital media channels knew more about the demographics of their consumers, to ensure it was targeted at the audience of males in their twenties. Asos understood the campaign, which had been shown on YouTube, on consumer interest websites and in mobile form, had been successful in reaching the target audience. They said it was not age-gated on YouTube, because that was considered unnecessary due to the way it was targeted and because no killing or death was shown. They said the campaign was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and had received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
YouTube said the ad was also available as a video on their website. They said they had received a few 'flags' reporting the video but after review considered it did not violate their community guidelines. They said all advertisers on YouTube were bound by terms and conditions to comply with applicable laws and regulations, including the CAP Code.
Entertainmentwise said the ad would have been passed through various media planning departments to be targeted at their audience. They believed the word "killer" would be interpreted as slang for "great" and that the word was used literally in the ad for comic effect. They said they had not received any complaints directly, however, they would no longer show the ad, because they acknowledged it could cause offence.
The ASA noted that potentially dangerous scenarios were depicted in the ad, which was not age-gated on YouTube. While we considered it was therefore not suitable for younger children due to the risk of emulation, we also noted the ad, which did not show death or any explicit violence, was targeted at an audience of males in their twenties. We noted that Entertainmentwise was a gossip website, which we considered was unlikely to appeal to young children, and that the complainants had not reported seeing the ad with material that was targeted at children on YouTube. We considered the targeting used would not entirely prevent those younger than the intended audience from seeing the ad, but its placement meant it was unlikely to be viewed by young children. We considered that if older children, such as those interested in celebrity gossip, saw the ad, they were likely to understand that it was tongue-in-cheek and that the actions shown should not be emulated. Because we understood the ad was unlikely to be seen by younger children, and was likely to be understood as being tongue-in-cheek by older audience members, we considered it was not irresponsible. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.