A TV ad for Boots included a scene in which a child dried a dog’s fur with a hair dryer as she whispered “Let’s make you into a unicorn.”
Twenty-one viewers, who believed the ad might encourage children or adults to emulate behaviour, which they believed was potentially unsafe for them and their dogs, objected that the ad was irresponsible.
Boots UK Ltd (Boots) did not consider the ad encouraged or condoned behaviour that would be dangerous for children to emulate. They said viewers could clearly see the dog was not being held in place or forced to sit still and they did not believe the scene would encourage people to place dogs in a position of distress. They said the child was shown handling the hairdryer appropriately and was also shown being supervised by an adult.
Clearcast considered that if the behaviour was emulated at home with an animal that disliked the sound or feeling of the hairdryer the animal would move away rather than sit in distress. They did not consider that the ad encouraged behaviour that was unsafe. They said that user guides for hairdryers stated that their use by children aged between 3 and 8 years was acceptable if supervised. They said the scene included an adult in the background, making clear that the child was supervised.
The complainants were concerned that the ad may encourage viewers, and particularly children, to emulate the behaviour shown and use a hairdryer on their dog. They considered this was irresponsible because it encouraged children to use electrical equipment, because it could potentially burn or hurt the dog if the hairdryer was not used responsibly and on a cool setting and because a dog might bite if a hairdryer was used on them in this way. One complainant said that she had used a hairdryer on a family dog as a child and was bitten.
We considered that the scene in question was brief and mild in nature, and noted that an adult was shown as present, the hairdryer was not held close to the dog’s face and the dog did not appear to be distressed. We did not consider it was irresponsible merely to feature a child using a hairdryer. We also understood that it was not uncommon for dog owners to use a hairdryer on their pet. We did not consider that adults or children were likely to be encouraged to use a hairdryer on their dogs as a result of viewing this brief scene, and noted that none of the complainants said their children had done so. We concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
Advertisements must not condone, encourage or unreasonably feature behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate. Advertisements must not implicitly or explicitly discredit established safety guidelines. Advertisements must not condone, encourage or feature children going off alone or with strangers.
This rule is not intended to prevent advertisements that inform children about dangers or risks associated with potentially harmful behaviour. (Children) and 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.