Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for Santander, seen in January 2017, featured a compilation of short viral video clips. The voice-over stated, “Life is full of transactions. Sometimes you’re in credit, sometimes things are a bit tight. And some statements we received don’t always get put in a drawer. And the things you invest in, the assets you have, can’t always be counted or cashed in. Prosperity isn’t always measured with a decimal point or a figure on the screen. Prosperity is finding what you want in life …” One of the clips featured showed a man flipping a piece of marshmallow from a frying pan into the air using a flipper, and the marshmallow was caught by another man in his mouth, who was sitting across the kitchen. Another clip featured one person sitting on another person's shoulder, who was walking towards the edge of a cliff, looking out towards a canyon.
The ASA received four complaints.
1. One complainant challenged whether the ad, in particular the clip in which a man caught a piece of marshmallow with his mouth from across a room, was irresponsible and encouraged a dangerous or unsafe practice.
2. Three complainants challenged whether the ad, in particular the clip in which one person was walking towards a cliff edge whilst carrying another on their shoulders, was irresponsible and encouraged a dangerous or unsafe practice.
1. Santander UK plc stated that they carried out research to find out what prosperity meant to people and the ad was intended to show their findings. They sourced user generated content to show them experiencing their own moments of prosperity. They said some clips in the ad showed meaningful moments with family, funny moments, enjoyable moments in everyday life, as well as moments of personal achievement and adventure. The pace of the ad was designed to be light and fun, not dangerous and edgy, which was also reflected by the style of the music. They also pointed out that the clips were very short moments. They believed that viewers would take the ad in the spirit that it was intended, given the overall feel of the ad. They considered viewers to be responsible members of the public, and able to make their own reasoned judgments about their own wellbeing.
Santander stated that the marshmallow clip was chosen to reflect the moment of satisfaction when a person achieved something that they might not be able to achieve again, and in that case, the perfect catch. They ensured that the clip featured adults and depicted the perfect catch carried out with ease, as though practised.
Clearcast stated that, while they acknowledged the marshmallow scene was not ‘best practice’ or the safest way to consume marshmallows, they believed that the majority of the adult population would understand the risk involved and that the greatest risk would be if children attempted to emulate it. They gave the versions of the ad that included this clip an ex-kids timing restriction.
2. Santander stated that the clip, which was shot in the Grand Canyon, was chosen to correspond with the line in the voice-over “Prosperity isn’t always measured with a decimal point, or a figure on a screen”. They said they chose that clip because it demonstrated the joy of seeing something wondrous, of being in the moment and sharing the experience with someone else. They believed that those featured in the clip were adults, walking slow and taking in the scenery; they were not doing anything erratic or foolish as, for example, running or taking ‘selfies’ from precarious positions.
Clearcast stated they had considered that the scene which depicted a woman seated on a man’s shoulders close to the cliff edge was slightly dangerous, but they pointed out that the couple were not at a critical distance to the edge. While they acknowledged that the ad depicted activities that could be dangerous if emulated, they felt that keeping the ad away from children’s programming would remove the greatest risk of emulation. They were confident that the way in which the clip was shown did not encourage adult viewers to copy the potentially dangerous behaviour themselves.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad was presented in a style that we considered viewers were likely to recognise as video montages commonly found on social media, which would ordinarily consist of viral videos shot by users themselves, such as funny or ‘Fail’ videos.
We noted that the marshmallow clip coincided with the voice-over “Sometimes you are in credit …”. It was shown amongst other clips showing, for example, a football team passing a football in a dressing room using only their heads, which then successfully landed in a bin, and a woman taking a ‘selfie’ and being surprised by Formula One driver Jenson Button. We considered that viewers were likely to understand those clips as highlighting small, enjoyable moments which represented visual metaphors of the reference “Sometimes you are in credit”.
In respect of the clip in which a person was walking towards a cliff edge whilst carrying another on their shoulders, looking out towards the Grand Canyon, it was shown with the voice-over “Prosperity isn’t always measured with a decimal point …”. The clip was shown amongst other clips which depicted, for example, mountaineers climbing a snowy summit, athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill surrounded by puppies, and a child’s reaction to being surprised with football tickets. We considered viewers were likely to understand that those clips illustrated special or meaningful moments in life, reflected in the voice-over.
We noted that both clips were shown very briefly in the ad and that the content of the clips shown generally corresponded with the voice-over at various points in the ad. For example, a clip of a toddler crying after sucking on a wedge of lemon was shown with the voice-over “… sometimes things are a bit tight”. We considered that viewers were likely to understand that the overall message of the ad was that there were both positive and negative moments in life, and equated prosperity with valuable moments, rather than financial wealth. We also considered that the music used, which was upbeat and cheerful, contributed to the positive tone of the ad. While we acknowledged that there were inherent risks in the acts captured in both clips, in particular the one for the Grand Canyon, we considered that viewers would also be aware of the risks if they emulated those acts. We further noted that the ex-kids restrictions had been applied and therefore it was not scheduled in or around programmes that were likely to be of particular appeal to children. We further considered that the ad did not glamorise those acts or depict them in a way that was likely to encourage viewers to be daring or reckless and disregard their own safety.
For the above reasons, we considered that the ad was unlikely to condone or encourage dangerous or unsafe practices, and concluded that it was not in breach of the Code.
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 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.