A paid-for Facebook ad for LifeSafe Technologies, a fire safety product manufacturer, seen on 7 May 2022, featured the text “Ever seen the ruin that a fire leaves behind? Don’t take the risk. Get a StaySafe 5-in-1 Fire Extinguisher. Just in case”. The post included a video of a woman against a plain black background who said, “Ever seen a fire, like a proper fire? One that engulfs the room, hits 800 degrees and kicks out thick black smoke. Ever had to crawl out of the house on all fours, fearing for your life, or throw your mattress out the bedroom window so it’ll break your fall because you can’t get out down the stairs? Or ever seen the ruin that a fire leaves behind? The shell of what was your home. Your favourite furniture reduced to blackened carcasses. Ever thought of your most treasured items up in flames? Photos, trinkets, gifts. Ever lost all those memories? Ever lost a pet? Ever lost a loved one? Ever bought a fire extinguisher? Don’t take the risk, get a StaySafe 5-in-1. Just in case.” The words “Don’t take the risk” appeared on-screen. The ad then showed the STAY SAFE 5-in-1 product and on-screen text that stated, “Get a StaySafe 5-in-1”. The on-screen text changed to “Just in case”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to cause unjustifiable fear or distress.
LifeSafe Technologies Ltd said the advertised product was designed to help save lives and properties from fires. It was estimated that 83% of homes in the UK did not have any fire extinguishing device and, therefore, by raising awareness of the risks of fires they hoped to help people protect their homes and families.
They said the ad had a serious tone in light of the important safety message it was conveying. The ad did not make any shocking claims or include shocking imagery or potentially distressing sounds from a house fire to attract attention.
They believed that the ad had been prepared with a sense of responsibility.
The CAP Code required that marketing communications must not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason and that if it could be justified the fear or distress should not be excessive.
The ad promoted LifeSafe Technologies’ “Stay Safe 5-in-1” fire extinguisher. It featured a woman speaking in a sombre tone, and used graphic language to describe a house fire, what a person may have done if they experienced a fire and the aftermath of a fire, including the loss of loved ones and pets. The ASA considered that while the ad focused mainly on the description and consequences of a house fire, this was consistent with the product being advertised. We also considered that the description and consequences were realistic and had not been exaggerated. We noted it did not include elements that might contribute more to causing fear or distress, such as imagery or sounds of a house fire.
We acknowledged that some viewers would find the ad distressing. However, we considered that this was justified given the product being advertised, and that the ad was unlikely to cause excessive fear or distress. We concluded the ad did not breach the Code.
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. (Social responsibility) and 4.2 4.2 Marketing communications must not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason; if it can be justified, the fear or distress should not be excessive. Marketers must not use a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.