Ad description

A TV ad for DeadHappy, a life insurance company, seen on 26 January 2023, began with a black screen and a voice saying, “Well that's it then, I should have got life insurance. Bit late for that now.” A light switch was then flipped on, and, in a cartoon style, two men were shown in a living room – the first was sat on a sofa wearing outdoor winter clothing including a coat, hat, mittens, earmuffs and holding a hot water bottle, and the second was standing holding a laptop displaying a website with the DeadHappy logo. The living room appeared to be cold, with icicles hanging from the seated man’s nose and the room’s fixtures, and penguins were shown walking through the darkened hallway in the background wearing head torches.

After the light came on, the second man said, “No it’s not too late, you can sign up with DeadHappy day or night”, to which the first man replied "Oi, switch that light off, I'm not made of money." The second man then said, “We're all skint mate, but DeadHappy's life insurance is really affordable”, to which the first man responded, “Yeah but at the moment mate, there’s like, more important things to pay for.” The second man then asked, "But what's more important than making sure your loved ones are looked after if you snuff it?. The first man replied, “Fair point, I’ll look into it. But switch that light off, I’m not paying for both things.”


The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive because it trivialised the concerns of those who could not afford to heat their home.


DeadHappy Ltd said their life insurance was designed to be affordable and that their target customer base was people who did not have life insurance and whose families would be particularly vulnerable following their death. They aimed to empathise with their audience through their ad, which they said contained a serious message – namely that of the cost of living crisis – as affordability in hard times was a core part of the ad. In their view, the ad presented an exaggerated comedic scenario that was ultimately light-hearted in tone, as demonstrated by the imagery used, which included a room featuring icicles and penguins, while also still maintaining an earnest element.

Clearcast said they empathised with the concerns of the complainant, but they did not believe the ad trivialised the rising costs of living, or that the ad was offensive. They commented that the cost of living crisis was a common theme in contemporary ads, and said they had interpreted the ad as a light-hearted way of raising the issue. They said the ad also contained the more serious message that consumers should not cut back on spending money on life insurance, as such policies were still important even during a cost of living crisis. They said the ad, through its use of animated characters and exaggerated tone, was meant to resonate with people who were cutting down their spending on both luxury purchases and basic necessities like heating. In their view, the ad ended with a less comedic message through one of the characters asking, “… what’s more important than making sure your loved ones are looked after if you snuff it?”


Not upheld

The ad was seen in the context of widespread news coverage of the increasing cost of living. That coverage had included a focus on a rise in household energy bills, which had outpaced average household incomes, and had left some people struggling to pay.

The ASA noted the ad had used an animated production style, and the depiction of a cold house had been taken to an extreme degree through the inclusion of elements such as roaming penguins, and icicles hanging from the nose of one of the characters. We acknowledged that some viewers may have questioned the ad’s tone, because it used humour and allusions to death in reference to the increased cost of household energy bills. We considered that while the depictions and references used in the ad might be distasteful, the combination of the production style and the extremity of the imagery used had given the ad a comedic tone and did not go as far as trivialising the difficulties of those negatively affected by the cost of living crisis.

For those reasons, while we acknowledged that some viewers may have found the ad distasteful, and sympathised with anyone experiencing cost of living difficulties, we considered that it did not trivialise the concerns of those who were struggling to heat their homes. We therefore concluded the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence and did not breach the Code.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.



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