A TV ad for Nike, seen on various channels between 11 and 21 August 2016, featured basketball players Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine in a crash test centre. The voice-over stated, “Zach, what are you doing?”, as Zach LaVine, wearing a helmet, knelt on the roof of a moving van and stated, “Watch this”. The car crashed into a barrier and propelled Zach LaVine from the car as he caught a ball in the air thrown backwards by Aaron Gordon.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with no timing restriction.
Five viewers challenged whether the ad was likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety, particularly in children, and whether it was suitable to be broadcast when children might be watching.
Nike considered viewers would understand that the ad was a staged stunt and was therefore not encouraging re-enactment by viewers, particularly children. It was part of a stylised campaign and the action took place in a controlled environment which would be recognised as a set-up, rather than a replicable, real-life situation. They said the moment in the ad when the athlete dunked the basketball was designed to look fantastical and over the top. Similarly, the use of slow-motion created a scenario which was not intended to depict real life and made it clear the events could not be replicated. They stated the ad featured professional stunt performers and special effects, and viewers would understand that the health and safety of the participants was not prejudiced during the filming.
They stated that children would not be able to emulate the ad’s action, so it could not be considered to condone behaviour that would be dangerous for them to emulate. In addition, they stated that the ad was not aimed at children, but 16- to 34-year-olds, and had been shown during sports and entertainment programmes which they did not believe were targeted at children. They added that the athletes featured were US NBA players known to a predominantly American audience, with a low UK profile, and were therefore unlikely to have particular resonance for children watching.
Clearcast thought the ad was clearly set up and fantastical in nature. The ad was exaggerated and so far-fetched it would be almost impossible to recreate. They had not placed a programming restriction on the ad because they felt it was clearly an orchestrated stunt combined with special effects and it was highly unlikely to be an emulation risk.
The ASA noted that the voice-over began by introducing the participants in the ad and considered that viewers who were not already aware of them would infer, from that partial introduction and the subsequent basketball trick, that the two main participants were professional basketball players. We considered that the trick in the ad would be seen as an exaggerated and implausible stunt rather than a realistic demonstration of professional basketballers’ abilities.
We also acknowledged that the ad was set in a testing centre and that the participants were wearing clothing typical of such venues, including helmets and safety googles. We considered that viewers would not recognise it as a familiar, real-life setting, but one specially set up to carry out an exaggerated stunt.
Whilst we accepted that people, including children, watching the ad were likely to enjoy and be impressed by the basketball skills featured, we did not consider that the ad would encourage them to directly emulate the far-fetched trick depicted. Because the ad was not set in a familiar, real-life setting and featured action which would be recognised to be a professional stunt, we did not consider that the ad was likely to encourage viewers to carry out a dangerous activity, or condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety, including in children.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety.
(Harm and offence),
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) and 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary