ASA keeps Vodafone in the dogbox

Vodafone’s been on a bit of a horror run with bureaucratic entities recently. It’s already been pinged twice for misleading advertising and there are four more court dates with ComCom for separate offences on the horizon. And now it’s been pulled up by the ASA for an ad made by .99 that featured the always dodgy fork and toaster combo. 

The 15-second ad for Supe Prepay minutes cuts away just before the knife goes into the top of the toaster and, rather ironically given the number of shocks Vodafone customers seem to have been getting recently, finishes with the line “Bonus weekend minutes when you top up on Supa Prepay: another way to get more than you bargained for.”

Multiple complaints were received about the ad, largely based around the fact that if it was copied by anyone it would result in electocution or at least a serious shock. And while Vodafone didn’t believe it shoud be upheld, it removed the ad from the air in response to the concerns.

The script and scenario was viewed by the Commercials Approval Bureau, which classified the advertisement as “GXC”, which allowed it to be broadcast at any time except during programmes that are intended specifically for children under the age of 13.

The submission said: “Vodafone believes that it is well known that to put a knife in a toaster may result in electric shock. The advertisement was aimed at adults, who would understand this, and the reference to getting more than you bargained for. This was not meant to, nor does Vodafone believe it does, show a situation in a way which encourages a disregard for safety. This advertisement was intended as a tongue in cheek reference to a well-known situation.”

The Complaints Board considered that the advertisement contained a visual presentation of a potentially dangerous situation and encouraged a disregard for safety. The Complaints Board agreed the implication from the advertisement was that the actor was about to put the bread knife down the toaster to retrieve the toast which could result in an electric shock, and whilst the Complaints Board acknowledged the intention of the accompanying tagline and the rating of the advertisement, in its view this did not save the advertisement from depicting a potentially dangerous ‘everyday’ situation. Accordingly, the Complaints Board considered that the advertisement was in breach of Rule 12 of the Code of Ethics and did not observe the due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics.

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