Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Not upheld.
A TV and video-on-demand (VOD) ad for a tablet PC:
a.The TV ad showed two young boys looking towards the camera, watching something off screen. The older of the boys said, "Watch, watch." The boys continued watching, before bursting into laughter. The older boy said, "Do you want to see it again? Watch, watch." The shot then changed to show a tablet device, which played a video clip of a cat attempting to jump from one roof to another, and missing, with a screech. On-screen text stated "Let's watch ... Let's laugh ... Let's share ... Let's hudl ...".
b. The VOD ad was the same as the TV ad and appeared during Sex Box on 4OD.
The ASA received 43 complaints.
1. A number of complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. A number of complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful, because they felt it was likely to encourage cruelty to animals.
3. One complainant challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for broadcast before 9 pm.
1. Tesco Stores Ltd told us they did not believe the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because the action took place in a natural, relaxed and informal setting, with much laughter, which they did not feel fitted with the notions of widespread offence or cruelty. They said the ad was intended to be amusing and to characterise the fun aspect of the product along with emphasising the opportunity for sharing, learning and having fun with family and friends.
2. Tesco Stores did not accept that the ad was likely to encourage cruelty to animals, which they did not condone. They pointed out the cat had jumped off the roof by its own volition and had not been forced or encouraged to jump, and that the children's laughter was simply their natural reaction to the cat's mishap. They said the footage was licensed from a company that specialised in "cat funnies" and that contact had been made with the owner of the cat to ensure that it had not suffered any injury.
3. They accepted there was a certain "naughtiness" to the ad, in that the children were laughing at the cat's mistimed jump, but they did not accept that that would encourage cruelty to animals, or cause serious or widespread offence, which they told us had not been their intention. As such, they did not feel that any scheduling restriction was warranted.
Clearcast told us that when approving the ad, they had acknowledged that the cat falling and the two boys laughing at its misfortune might cause offence to some. However, on balance, they had decided that the footage merely depicted normal feline behaviour, albeit slightly clumsy. They felt that because nobody was seen to force the cat off the roof, it was unlikely to encourage cruelty to animals, or cause serious or widespread offence. They considered it important that the footage had not been made specifically for the commercial and were content that nothing depicted had broken the law. They did not believe the ad showed any behaviour which could be emulated, or anything violent or disturbing, and therefore they did not feel that the ad warranted a timing restriction.
4OD said they had ensured the ad had been cleared by Clearcast, as was their policy, and advised that they had not received any complaints directly.
1., 2. & 3. Not upheld
Whilst the ASA acknowledged that some viewers were likely to find the ad distasteful, we accepted that the ad simply showed the children's natural reaction to viewing a video clip which featured a cat misjudging a jump. We noted that the footage did not show the cat being encouraged or forced to jump and we therefore considered there was nothing in the ad that could be emulated or that was likely to encourage cruelty to animals. We concluded that the ad did not breach the Code and that it did not require any scheduling restriction.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. 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) and BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility), 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. 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) 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.