A TV ad for Center Parcs resorts showed families, that included school aged children, taking part in various activities. On-screen text stated “Selected 4 night midweek breaks from £279 for 4 people”. Small print stated “Excludes school holidays …”.
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged parents to take their children out of school during term-time.
Center Parcs Ltd said they had produced one ad that could be used as a generic template that allowed additional and relevant information, such as pricing and offers, to be overlaid in subsequent ads. They said the ad had conveyed a particular holiday price that was available outside school holidays. They said it was the responsibility of parents to exercise judgement regarding their children and there was nothing in the ad that encouraged parents to take their children out of school during term times.
Clearcast said Center Parcs provided year round holidays that covered term time as well as school holidays. They said the particular break advertised was not available during school holidays and a disclaimer made that clear. They said the rules regarding taking children out of school during term time was the responsibility of parents who would be aware that rules had been tightened recently. Therefore permission to take children out of school for a holiday during term time was unlikely.
The ASA noted that large on-screen text made clear that the price of the midweek break was for four people and that smaller on-screen text also stated that the offer did not apply during school holidays. Although the ad featured families we did not consider that alongside the on-screen text "… for 4 people" gave the impression that the breaks were limited to families only. However, we noted that throughout the ad many of the scenes featured families with school aged children enjoying various activities. We considered the emphasis of the ad was on a family break and that the overall impression was that families could take advantage of the advertised offer, which was not available at weekends or during school holidays. We also noted the final on-screen text stated "Your family. Your time", which we considered was likely to be an encouragement for parents to take up the offer. Because the ad had focused on a family break to promote an offer which was available only during term-time, we concluded it irresponsibly encouraged parents to take their children out of school.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Center Parcs Ltd to avoid promoting family breaks which were available only during school term times.