Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A TV ad for Heinz included several scenes that featured children, teenagers and adults using empty or full tins of Baked Beans to drum out the rhythm of a song. Towards the end of the ad, on-screen text stated “Learn the #CanSong”.
1. Three complainants challenged whether the ad encouraged unsafe practice.
2. Six complainants challenged whether the ad featured behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.
1. & 2. HJ Heinz Foods UK Ltd (Heinz) said the ad centred around the use of a Heinz Beanz can, and that throughout it the can was tapped only on its sealed top, its bottom or sides. They said those were all surfaces that were safe to tap on and the ad did not depict any movements that involved placing a hand or fingers inside the can. They said that consumers had created their own video versions of the ‘Can Song’ and uploaded them onto social media sites, which was evidence that copying the ad was not prejudicial to their health or safety. Heinz said at the end of the ad the on-screen text “Learn the #CanSong” featured the Facebook logo which referred consumers to Facebook and social media more generally. They said that the various social media sites contained online tutorial videos which explained how the Can Song could be performed.
Social media videos that featured the Can Song also included instructions on preparing a can, that is, that the tin needed to be empty and clean and that they also recommended applying tape to the inside of the open end of the tin. They said that all cans featured in the ad had been taped.
Heinz said that the children shown tapping cans in the ad were always shown in the presence of an adult. Furthermore, they said that they did not consider any of the scenes in the ad to be solely directed at, or particularly appealing to, children because they featured either an adult only or a family setting. They said the ad also included scenes that were aimed at adults, for example, moving house or working in an office.
Clearcast said that the behaviour did not look dangerous or harmful and that those involved, when the ad was being created, took steps that ensured the action appeared safe at all times. They considered that the way the can was handled did not look dangerous or reckless, as the moves were clearly choreographed and staged, and that children would be aware of that. They said that no one in the ad was shown playing with the rim of the cans and children who participated in the Can Song were supervised by an adult. Therefore, the ad did not show behaviour that would be harmful.
The ASA noted that the actors who played out the Can Song were featured in various situations, and some of the scenes appeared to include both opened (as Heinz said was advised) and closed cans of baked beans.
We noted that to play the Can Song, the tin was tapped on its bottom, top and sides which involved flipping and twirling the can round, and that all actors in the ad were proficient in performing the routine. We considered that viewers encouraged to learn the Can Song were unlikely to be as proficient as the actors, but that in any case, particularly given the manoeuvres required, it was possible that mistakes could be made with an empty can, which might include a hand or fingers being inserted into an open tin (with the associated risk of cuts).
We noted Heinz’s point that on-screen text referred consumers to social media sites which they said included instructions on preparing a can to replicate the song. However, we did not consider the on-screen text in the ad, which briefly referenced Facebook and “#CanSong”, was sufficient to alert consumers to the advice to make a tin can safe to play the Can Song.
Heinz explained that the cans used in the ad had been taped around the inside of the open end, in accordance with the safety advice on social media. However, that was not clear from the ad, and the ad did not contain any information regarding how to safely recreate the song. In the absence of such information, we concluded that the ad condoned and encouraged behaviour that prejudiced health or safety.
On that point, the ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence).
We noted the ad featured actors of varying ages, including both adults and children, who played the Can Song and that it actively encouraged viewers to recreate the song with an accompanying routine, for example via the on-screen text “Learn the #CanSong”. Although we recognised that the ad was unlikely to appeal to younger children, we considered it was likely to have appeal to a wide age range, including older children, who wanted to learn the song and for whom recreating it would be relatively straightforward. As noted above, Heinz explained that the cans used in the ad had been made safe to handle but that was not clear from the ad and we considered that the actions shown could therefore be dangerous for children to emulate. Because the ad had not included information regarding how to safely recreate the song, we concluded that it breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached BCAP Code rule
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).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told HJ Heinz Foods UK Ltd to ensure that future ads did not condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health and safety, including behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate, for example by including a clear on-screen safety message such as “Play safe: tape the can”.