An in-app ad for Spider Farmer UK, an indoor gardening and artificial lighting retailer, seen in the Google Chrome app on 23 August 2023, featured an image of cannabis plants growing under an artificial lightning rig and text that stated “Spider Farmer UK Summar Sale. Spider Farmer UK official website. Providing all kind of kits for indoor growing”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad, which they believed condoned the cultivation of cannabis plants, was irresponsible.
SpiderfarmerLED (Spider Farmer UK) did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
Google UK Ltd said Google Ireland confirmed the ad had been served through the Google Ads platform, which was a self-administered system. Under their terms and conditions, responsibility for following the applicable regulations and guidance, including the CAP code, lay with the advertiser. They said that the ad was in breach of Google’s policies and they had taken steps to prevent it from being served again.
The ASA was concerned by SpiderfarmerLED’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
We understood the cultivation of cannabis plants was illegal in the UK. The ad depicted cannabis plants being grown indoors under artificial lighting, which we considered suggested Spider Farmer UK’s indoor gardening equipment and lighting could be used in their cultivation and production. We therefore considered the ad condoned the cultivation of cannabis plants. For that reason, we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told SpiderfarmerLED t/a Spider Farmer UK to ensure their ads were not socially irresponsible and did not condone the use of their products in the cultivation of cannabis plants. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.