A TV ad for Eve Sleep, a mattress manufacturer, seen in July 2018, depicted a young woman who appeared to be pregnant. The ad began with the woman entering a pizza takeaway restaurant and being ushered to the front of a queue. It then cut to a scene showing the woman being given a seat on a crowded bus by an infirm, elderly man. Finally, the woman entered her home and removed a pillow from underneath her jumper before leaping onto the couch. The words 'HOW DOES SHE SLEEP AT NIGHT?' appeared on the screen followed by a scene of the young woman sleeping on an Eve mattress with the voice-over, "Nobody's perfect but you could have the perfect night's sleep thanks to our outrageously comfortable Eve mattresses".
The complainants challenged whether the portrayal of a woman benefitting from pretending to be pregnant was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Eve Sleep plc said that the script and ad scenario had been written with the intention of creating a light-hearted scenario. The chain of events in the ad was presented with the intention that it would not be seen as condoning immoral or unethical behaviour and no complaints were raised by test audiences who viewed the ad before it aired.
Clearcast said the script had been discussed at length and they had concluded that, despite some of the scenarios being potentially distasteful, the ad was light-hearted and would be unlikely to cause widespread offence. Clearcast felt that the gestures of goodwill displayed by characters in the early stages of the ad provided a suitable counterpoint to the mischievous activities of the young woman in the latter part of the ad.
The ASA considered that while the ad depicted a woman, who appeared to be pregnant, gaining advantages through deception in a couple of social scenarios, the tone of the ad was light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek. The cartoonish presentation of the woman’s activities – heavily exhaling and rubbing her stomach before feigning apology in the takeaway; smiling in a self-satisfied and mischievous way when taking a seat off an elderly man on a bus – coupled with the use of the phrase “HOW DOES SHE SLEEP AT NIGHT?” followed by a scene of the woman sleeping on an Eve Sleep mattress underlined the jovial nature of the ad.
We noted that almost all of the complainants raised concerns about the second scene in the ad – where an elderly man gave up his bus seat to the young woman – with fears that it could provoke real-world scepticism of pregnant women, leading to them not being treated with due respect. A number of complainants also voiced their concerns that the ad was discriminatory and likely to cause serious offence to pregnant women.
While we recognised those concerns, because of the light-hearted presentation of the events, we considered that viewers would understand from the outset that the ad was depicting exaggerated scenarios for comic effect. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as making a judgment about the character of pregnant women, and that it would not influence real-world interactions with pregnant women. For those reasons we concluded that it was not irresponsible or likely to have caused serious or widespread offence.
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 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.