A TV ad for a range of children's toys featured two children unwrapping presents under a Christmas tree. The voice-over stated, "Make it a Moshi Christmas, with toys, games, books and stocking fillers for everyone!" Small print at the bottom of the screen included "Ask parents' permission before going online". The ad showed a series of toys within the promoted Moshi Monsters range. The voice-over then stated, "What's on your Moshi Christmas list?"
The complainant, who believed that the ad was targeted at children, challenged whether the ad breached the Code because it encouraged children to ask their parents to buy the products for them.
Mind Candy Ltd stated that the ad was primarily shown on family channels and targeted to a family audience. They considered that the ad did not encourage children to ask others to buy products from the Moshi Monsters range for them, but simply asked the viewing audience what was on their Christmas list. They commented that it was well understood that a Christmas list was a wish list rather than a shopping list, and said the ad did no more than suggest that Moshi Monster products might appear on Christmas wish lists. They also said the on-screen text stating "Ask parents' permission before going online" was used solely to stress that children should use online services with their parents' or guardians' permission.
Clearcast described the voice-over statement "Make it a Moshi Christmas ..." as a brand message, highlighting the large range of Moshi Monster products available over the Christmas period and playing on the similarity with the phrase "merry Christmas". They said they had felt it necessary to include the on-screen text "Ask parents' permission before going online" to ensure that parents had oversight of their children's online activities. They did not consider that the question "What's on your Moshi Christmas list?" encouraged children to ask their parents to buy Moshi products, because it was well known that a Christmas list was a wish list only, and that children did not expect to receive every item on the list. They further commented that the line was phrased as a question rather than a direct encouragement to children.
The ASA noted that the ad showed a range of Moshi Monsters products together with the voice-over statements "Make it a Moshi Christmas ..." and "What's on your Moshi Christmas list?". We considered that the content of the ad would appeal to children, and acknowledged that it might have the effect of making the advertised products more desirable to some children who saw it. However, we considered that the question "What's on your Moshi Christmas list?" amounted only to a suggestion that the products might be suitable for Christmas wish lists, and that the statement "Make it a Moshi Christmas" was unlikely to be interpreted by children as an explicit incitement to buy Moshi Monsters products, or to ask others to buy them on their behalf. We noted that the ad did not include a website address, and furthermore that it was possible for children who did navigate to it independently to use the Moshi Monsters website without any purchases having been made. We were therefore satisfied that the effect of the on-screen text "Ask parents' permission before going online" was to ensure an appropriate degree of parental supervision in children's internet use, rather than specifically to drive purchases of the products.
For the reasons outlined above, we concluded that the ad did not go so far as to directly encourage children to ask their parents to buy the products for them and therefore was not in breach of the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 5.9 5.9 Advertisements must not include a direct exhortation to children to buy or hire a product or service or to persuade their parents, guardians or other persons to buy or hire a product or service for them. but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.