You will remember that just recently I posted this video, citing obvious concerns about its content. Is I indicated at the end of that post I emailed a complaint form to the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) detailing my concerns. I received an email of receipt and assurance that the advertisement would be looked into. This afternoon I was notified of an email response from the ASA:
Dear Mrs O’Neill
YOUR COMPLAINT ABOUT JACOB FRUITFIELD FOODS LTD AD
Thank you for contacting the ASA. I’m sorry to hear that this ad has caused you concern.
We have assessed the ad and your complaint but consider that there are insufficient grounds for ASA intervention on this occasion. Our role as an organisation is to help ensure that advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful. We can intervene if an ad that has been broadcast appears likely to be in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising by, for example, being likely to cause serious or widespread offence, being materially misleading or risking causing significant harm. As a result we can only act if the ad, in our judgement, offends against widely accepted moral, social or cultural standards.
Firstly, in response to the issue you raise about the suitability of this ad for children, we note that Clearcast – the independent organisation responsible for the clearance of most TV ads before broadcast – acknowledged this product as being ‘HFSS’ or High in Fat, Sugar and Salt before the ad was broadcast. When a product is classified ‘HFSS’, a mandatory scheduling restriction is put in place to ensure that ads are not shown during programmes that are of particular appeal to children between 4 and 15 years of age. This restriction is applied based on the content of the programmes themselves, and not the time of day that the ad is broadcast. We have looked at the programming on Sky News around the time and date you mentioned and we do not consider that these programmes were commissioned for, principally directed at, or likely to appeal particularly to audiences under 16. Therefore we consider that the restriction that is in place is sufficient to ensure that children are not exposed to the ad. In this absence of any evidence to suggest that this ad has not been scheduled appropriately, we consider that children, broadly speaking, are less likely to see this ad.
Whilst I understand your point of view about the content of this ad generally, we have to consider how the wider audience will interpret it. In this case we note that the ad does not make any direct references to sex or sexual relationships and does not include any graphic sexual images. Although the ad may be seen as mildly suggestive from an adult perspective we consider it unlikely to be viewed in the same manner by any children who may see the ad as they would not have the same interpretation. Therefore, although the theme of the ad is unlikely to appeal to all viewers and could be seen by some viewers as distasteful, on balance, we consider that this ad is unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or risk causing harm to children and consequently will not be taking any further action on this occasion.
Finally, while the number of complaints we receive is only one of a number of factors that we consider when dealing with a complaint, it is a useful indicator of how an ad is being interpreted. In this case the we have not received any other complaints about this ad or the issues you have raised, a fact which would appear to support our assessment.
I realise this outcome will disappoint you, however we will continue to monitor the response to this ad.
And so because this disgusting perverted video is widely accepted by the majority of society as normal, and because no one else complained then it is deemed morally acceptable to broadcast on television! So there you have it! Yes I am rather disappointed, but to be perfectly honest this ridiculous reasoning is what I expected...