A TV ad for a soft drink showed a group of women, one of whom rolled an unopened drinks can towards a man operating a lawn mower. The can rolled down a shallow hill and stopped when it hit the side of the mower. The man picked up the can whilst the mower engine was still running. As he opened the can, the contents sprayed over him. He removed his shirt to wring it dry whilst the women looked on eagerly.
A viewer challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety.
Beverage Services Ltd t/a Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland (Coca-Cola), stated that the ad was designed to show people having fun in an irreverent and humorous way, and that the act of rolling the drinks can towards the gardener was an innocent interaction carrying a sense of playfulness and flirtatiousness. They said they had tested the ad with consumers before it aired and their main perceptions had been of a cheeky, sassy and humorous creative execution. No concerns around health and safety were raised. Coca-Cola believed viewers would understand that the scenario was fictional and would interpret the ad as fun, humorous and playful. They did not consider that the ad condoned or encouraged behaviour prejudicial to health or safety.
Clearcast said the stylistic "fantasy" scenario removed the situation slightly from real life. They had noted that rolling a drinks-can down a hill could be considered dangerous or antisocial, but had considered that the fantastical situation and the fact that no one was shown to be hurt rendered the act acceptable. They also said they had noted that the engine of the lawn mower could be heard to slow down just before the gardener reached for the can, and that until he was shown mowing again towards the end of the ad no engine noise was audible. They had assumed that the engine had been stopped completely. They believed that the ad had been made with a spirit of responsibility and felt there was no risk of dangerous behaviour being condoned, nor of health or safety being prejudiced.
The ASA understood that the ad presented a humorous situation where a group of women's efforts to catch the attention of a male gardener were rewarded by his having to remove his shirt after it was sprayed by the contents of the drinks-can they rolled towards him. We noted that the lawn mower he was operating was clearly shown to be switched on at the point that the can was in motion and when it came to rest beside the mower, because pieces of grass were being thrown into the air. The mower was visibly vibrating in the background of the shot as the man picked up the can, placing his hand close to the machine. We also understood that there were health and safety risks associated with running over hard objects with a lawn mower (because there was a danger that those objects would be propelled at high speeds towards the operator or any bystanders) and as such considered that the act of rolling the can towards the mower was itself a depiction of behaviour that could be prejudicial to health and safety. However, we agreed with Coca-Cola and Clearcast that the ad clearly showed a "fantasy" scenario in a light-hearted and comedic way. We considered that viewers would understand that it was intended to convey a humorous message rather than reflect a real-life situation and would not be likely to attempt to emulate the behaviour shown. Whilst the ad included a portrayal of behaviour prejudicial to health or safety, we concluded that it did not go so far as to condone or encourage that behaviour and, consequently, was not irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.