A pre-roll ad on YouTube, seen on 5 September 2022, for Wild deodorant, featured a woman sitting up in bed. She seemed to be masturbating under the bedcovers while watching a computer screen. She was interrupted by a talking polar bear which then joined her in bed.
The complainant, whose ten-year-old son saw the ad, challenged whether it had been irresponsibly targeted because it was seen before Minecraft videos which were likely to appeal to children.
Wild Cosmetics Ltd said they had taken care to avoid the ad being shown to a younger audience. They said they targeted their YouTube ads based on users’ interests, for example health and beauty, and it was likely that someone deemed a prospective customer had been logged into the YouTube account at the time the ad was shown. They said they did not choose with which videos their ads were shown; this was controlled by algorithm. They said they did not advertise on channels that were clearly aimed at children and would add this channel to their list of exclusions.
Google said the ad was served through Google Ads, a self-administered system and that it was the advertiser’s responsibility to abide by applicable laws and regulations, including the CAP Code. They said they offered tools to help advertisers target or exclude the type of content that their ads appear near, as well as the type of audiences that see their ads, but they did not send details of these. They did not comment on the specific targeting of the ad.
We understood from the complainant that the ad had been shown on the DanTDM channel. The content for this channel included commentary videos about Minecraft, Roblox and Pokemon and was largely, although not exclusively, aimed at children and showed content that was likely to appeal to children. In light of the ad’s reference to masturbation we considered that the ad should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of children seeing it.
We noted the advertiser had targeted the ads based on the interests of potential customers and had excluded some channels. However, those exclusions had proved insufficient to prevent the ad from being seen around videos on DanTDM channel, before a Minecraft video. Because the ad appeared before a video likely to appeal to children, we concluded that it had been inappropriately targeted.
We concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising)
We told Wild Cosmetics Ltd to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted and that ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children did not appear in media that was likely to appeal to children.