A YouTube banner ad for Converse Footwear, seen on 11 August 2018, showed a student taking a written exam at a desk in an examination hall setting. He was shown crossing his legs under the desk in a way that revealed answers to the exam questions written on the Converse shoe he was wearing. Text which stated "ALL THE STORIES ARE TRUE" appeared across the screen. The description of the ad under the banner stated “Converse does not condone cheating but the stories are true".
The complainant, who believed the ad encouraged and glorified academic misconduct, challenged whether it was irresponsible.
Converse said the ad was one in a campaign that aimed to tell stories about courageous and interesting people who had worn Chuck Taylor trainers. They said the ad intended to link the stories together and to highlight that the stories told in the other ads in the campaign were true. They pointed out that the ad contained the text "Converse does not condone cheating but the stories are true", which they believed encouraged and promoted truth and honesty. They believed it was a significant stretch to argue that the ad went as far as encouraging anti-social behaviour. They said YouTube had accepted the ad without restriction, which Converse believed supported the view that the ad would not cause harm.
The ASA was mindful of the association of the Converse brand with youth culture, as well as of the wider social concerns regarding academic misconduct. However, we considered viewers of the ad were likely to see it as lighthearted and that, while they might not appreciate the full intention behind the text "Converse does not condone cheating but the stories are true", it nevertheless reinforced the message that cheating was not acceptable. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to have any significant effect in encouraging or condoning academic misconduct, specifically cheating in exams.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.4 4.4 Marketing communications must contain nothing that is likely to condone or encourage violence or anti-social behaviour. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.