A pop-up banner ad promoting the website www.wish.com, which appeared in the in-game app, Simon's Cat Crunch Time and was seen on 24 July 2017. The ad featured an image of a fake tattoo which looked like a bite mark on a woman's chest.
The complainant challenged whether the ad had been targeted responsibly, because they believed it could cause harm to children who saw it.
wish.com did not respond to our enquiries.
The publisher of the app Strawdog Studios, said they had not intended to display the ad to their users and explained that it had been served through a third-party Application Programming Interface (API). Their set up with the API was intended to filter out ads like the one complained about. They explained that because of the large volume of ads they served, it occasionally happened that an ad was not caught by their filter and in that situation they would remove the specific provider manually. They also did this when people complained to them directly, although they had not received any direct customer complaints about the ad. They said they were not going to serve any further ads from wish.com.
The ASA was concerned by wish.com's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA understood that Simon's Cat Crunch Time was an in-game app that featured a cartoon cat. The aim of the game was for the player to help the cat find his treats. We considered the app was likely to have strong appeal to children and therefore children were likely to have seen the ad. We noted that it was not clear from the ad that the product shown was a fake tattoo and we considered that the image, of a bite mark on a woman's chest which was red and bloody, might cause distress to children who saw it. Because of that, we considered the ad had not been targeted responsibly and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility), 5.1 5.1 Marketing communications addressed to, targeted directly at or featuring children must contain nothing that is likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm: and 5.1.5 5.1.5 distance selling marketers must take care when using youth media not to promote products that are unsuitable for children. (Children).
The ad must not appear again in an untargeted medium. We told wish.com to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted.