Ad description

A TV ad, two Video on Demand (VOD) ads and a YouTube ad for Vodafone:

a. The TV ad, seen on 23 August 2022, opened with a paramedic running towards a pregnant woman who was in labour in a car. He said to a fellow paramedic, “Labour Ward on the phone quick as you can please.” The phone was answered, placed on loudspeaker and a voice said, “Midwife here, what’s the situation?” The paramedic replied, “Looking at a breech”. The midwife asked, “Right, is the body progressing?” The paramedic replied, “Not progressing.” The midwife said, “Ok you need to rotate the baby.” The paramedic said, “OK turning.” The midwife replied, “Here we go”. The baby was safely delivered. The paramedic said to the midwife, “Thank you for your help. We have a beautiful baby boy.” The ad ended with the woman holding her newborn baby. The voice-over said, “Those you trust, trust Vodafone to keep them connected.”

b. The VOD ad on ITV Hub, seen on 25 August 2022, was the same as ad (a).

c. The VOD ad on BT Sport seen on 7 September 2022, was the same as ad (a)

d. The VOD ad seen on YouTube on 29 August 2022, was the same as ad (a).


The complainants, several of whom were midwives and obstetricians, who understood rotating a baby in the breech position was a procedure which should be done in a hospital, challenged whether the depiction of a midwife instructing a paramedic to rotate a baby in the breech position was irresponsible.


Vodafone UK said they had wanted a scenario in which a paramedic and midwife would work together during a telephone call facilitated on their network. They said they appreciated the concerns raised by the medical professionals were rooted in a commitment to accuracy and responsibility.

Vodafone said their agency consulted medical practitioners, including a certified paramedic and certified midwife to advise on the dialogue, action and interaction of the characters during pre-product and on set.

Vodafone said that the consultant paramedic confirmed that if they encountered a birth in the scenario depicted in the ad, their intervention would be necessary. They confirmed that the paramedic would talk to a midwife and would not touch a baby without the permission of a midwife or registrar. Ideally a breech baby would be planned to be born in a hospital, but for the particular scene, they wanted to show the unpredictable nature of labour and demonstrate a paramedic and midwife working together to achieve a successful delivery.

Vodafone said they had had regard to the official regulations for paramedics which they believed were applicable. They believed the paramedic in the ad acted in accordance with the professional standards of proficiency for paramedics and met the standards expected of real paramedics. The paramedic in the ad recognised the expertise of a midwife, used communication technologies to engage with her and receive her advice and guidance, gathered the appropriate information, then acted to address the emergency.

Vodafone said that when the paramedic arrived at the scene to assist the woman, they were distinguishable by their green uniform, blue gloves and had arrived in an ambulance. When the paramedic called the midwife, the phone contact name was saved as “Labour Ward” and the midwife identified herself as such when she answered. Vodafone said it was clear at all times that the procedure and the advice was being carried out and given by trained medical professionals which would be recognisable by members of the public. They said that members of the public who saw the ad would not consider themselves capable of carrying out the complicated procedures performed by medical professionals in the course of their work. Vodafone believed the message of the ad to the public was that, in times of distress, they were encouraged to call the emergency services. Vodafone said that a reasonable member of the public was highly unlikely, after watching the ad, to attempt to perform the task of a trained medical professional. They considered that suggestion would construe a meaning to the ad beyond its ordinary interpretation.

Vodafone said they considered that a reasonable person would take the message of the ad to be that a reliable phone signal allowed paramedics and midwives to work together remotely to perform the safe delivery of a baby in trying and unprecedented circumstances.

Clearcast said when reviewing the ad, they mainly considered whether the scene required a timing restriction, as some viewers may have found it distressing. They said the ad showed an emergency situation being handled by a paramedic whilst in contact with a hospital. They said they did not consider it was necessary to challenge whether the emergency procedure depicted was representative of the type of emergency situation that paramedics might find themselves having to deal with.

Clearcast said they did not consider the ad to be irresponsible, as they understood no viewer would attempt to follow the instructions in a home situation due to it being a procedure that could only be carried out by a medical professional.

BT Sport said that the ad was cleared by Clearcast and was given an ex-kids scheduling restriction which meant that it could not be scheduled on BT Sport channels which had a high appeal to those under the age of 18 years. They said questions around the factual accuracy was the responsibility of the brand, agency and Clearcast.

ITV said the ad was placed in socially responsible content and that they had not received any complaints about it being either harmful or offensive.


Not upheld

The CAP and BCAP Codes stated that ads must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. The BCAP Code also stated that ads must not include material that was likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety.

The opening scene of the ad showed a paramedic running to attend to a woman in labour in a car while a call was placed to the “labour ward” in a hospital. The call was answered by a voice who said, “Midwife here.” The ASA considered that viewers would interpret the ad as depicting two trained medical professionals in their respective lines of work responding to an emergency and communicating with each other via a mobile phone network.

We understood from the complainants that a breech birth should be performed in a hospital, and we noted their concerns about the possible risks of depicting a paramedic rotating a breech baby in a car. However, we did not consider that paramedics or midwives would go against their medical training and endanger life when faced with any type of emergency outside of a hospital. We further considered that viewers would not interpret the ad as providing advice to the public as to how to deliver a baby in the breech position, for example, at home, or that it would encourage them to attempt the procedure themselves without medical advice from trained specialists.

We noted that the paramedic placed the phone on loudspeaker and spoke with the midwife while he helped the woman until the baby was delivered. The voice-over stated, “Those you trust, trust Vodafone to keep them connected.” We considered viewers would understand that the purpose of the ad was to highlight the paramedic’s use of a mobile network to contact and communicate with the midwife, as well as enabling them to stay connected during the emergency.

For those reasons we concluded that the ad was not irresponsible and was unlikely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health or safety, and therefore did not breach the Code.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule  1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.  (Social responsibility), but did not find it in breach.

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.  (Social responsibility) 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.


1.2     4.4    

CAP Code (Edition 12)


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