A pre-roll ad on YouTube for rapper Bamby H2O’s single, titled ‘Over It’, seen on 16 December 2020, featured an instrumental played over scenes of a powdery substance being cut with a razor, a rolled up cigarette being lit and a rolled up bank note being used to consume a powdery substance. The opening lyrics stated “Fucked up over you” and “Drugged up at the function slurring all my words!”. One scene included the outline of a woman pulling down her top to reveal her breasts.
The ad included lyrics such as “Shawty wanna fuck with me she gotta feed me first”, “Double D’s I’m drowning in disbelief” and “You chase a bitch” and repeated references to the consumption of drugs throughout.
The ad was seen before a synth wave music playlist.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and irresponsible because it featured references to drug use and paraphernalia, nudity and explicit language.
ResponseBamby H2O did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Bamby H2O’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ad was for a full-length rap music video and was seen before an unrelated music playlist on YouTube. It featured a number of scenes depicting the consumption of illegal drugs, including a bottle of amphetamine tablets and a powder consumed through a rolled up bank note. We considered that the ad, which featured illegal drugs and drug-use was irresponsible for depicting the use of drugs in this context. The lyrics also referenced being “drugged up” and featured expletives such as the word “fucking” which was likely to seriously offend many people. The ad also featured the outline of a woman exposing her breasts which we considered was gratuitous and objectified women.
While the video was shot using visual effects, its content was graphic and explicit. Furthermore, we considered that viewers of an unrelated music playlist would not expect to be served an ad that featured drug references, nudity and strong language. We concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of: age; disability; gender; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bamby H2O to ensure that their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence, and to ensure their ads were not socially irresponsible. We referred the matter to the CAP’s Compliance Team.