A Dairylea advert featuring two girls eating cheese triangles while hanging upside down has been banned for encouraging ‘unsafe behaviour’.
The video on demand ad, seen on ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5 in August, attracted complaints that other children may try to copy the girls, who were shown hanging upside down from a football goal before eating a cheese snack, and end up choking.
Some 14 viewers complained that the advert condoned or encouraged unsafe behaviour that could be dangerous if children tried to emulate it.
Dairylea owner Mondelez UK said the ad’s purpose was to show parents allowing their children more freedom, and the video included two supervising parents in the background.
Mondelez referred to a study that they said supported their view that a person’s ability to swallow was not affected by the position they ate in, including when eating upside down.
Based on this research, and because Dairylea is a soft food, the company believed the risk of choking when eating upside down was very low.
The ad had also been given an “ex-kids” scheduling restriction, but Mondelez said it was no longer running it and would remove any references to eating upside down if it was used in the future.
‘An unsafe practice’
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it sought advice from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, whose view was that the scenario depicted in the ad represented a situation where there was potentially a high risk of choking.
The ASA also noted that one complainant had reported that their three-year-old relative, after seeing the ad, ate their food whilst hanging upside down.
The ASA said: “We therefore considered that eating whilst upside down was an unsafe practice and one which could be dangerous for children to emulate.
“We therefore concluded that a scheduling restriction was not sufficient to reduce the risk of harm and that the ad breached the Code.”
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again.
It added: “We told Mondelez UK to ensure their advertising did not condone or encourage unsafe practices.”
In response to the ruling, a Mondelez spokesman said: “We recognise and will abide by the ASA’s decision but we are disappointed by the ruling.
“We carefully consulted with Clearcast to pre-approve the content of this video on demand advert prior to airing.
“It was aimed at adults (parents) rather than young children and was deliberately scheduled away from programming likely to appeal to children under 16. As such, we believe it was unlikely to encourage ‘copycat’ behaviour by young children.
“We remain committed to responsible advertising and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all relevant UK regulations.”