Diageo ad banned for appealing to children

15 October, 2014

The advertising watchdog has warned Diageo that future marketing must not appeal to children after it banned a Parrot Bay ad that was deemed to “appeal strongly to under-18s”.

The ad, which was promoting Diegeo’s frozen RTD range, was broadcast at 6pm and featured a cartoon parrot squawking in a Caribbean setting before being frozen.  

A viewer complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming it was irresponsible, and the watchdog agreed and upheld the decision.

It said: “We considered the animated colourful parrot and its behaviour, including the slapstick humour, with the parrot being frozen, moving its eyes in a comical fashion and falling off the bar, was likely to strongly appeal to children.

“We also considered the parrot’s squawk and conversational noises, which were directed at the viewer, along with the Caribbean-style music, beach scenery and the colourful crystal-ice appearance of the drink also contributed to an impression that was likely to appeal to children.

“While we noted the final frame included the text “CONTAINS ALCOHOL”, we considered that this was not sufficient to ensure children would not take an interest in the ad, and, instead, the “FREEZE A PARROT TODAY” slogan, which was larger and more prominent on the screen, referred back to the slapstick humour previously shown and, therefore, also represented a concept that was likely to appeal to children.

“Because we considered the ad, particularly the parrot character and its behaviour was likely to appeal strongly to children, we concluded the ad was irresponsible.”

But Diageo vowed to fight the decision.

Ed Pilkington, consumer marketing and innovation Director for Diageo Western Europe, said:  “We are disappointed with the ASA Council’s adjudication and will be appealing against the decision. We will be liaising with the ASA and will await the decision of the Independent review process.”

Clearcast, the organisation that approves ads before they appear, decided the parrot was unlikely to appeal to children because the parrot was realistic rather than “cute or endearing”.

Diageo also argued that the scene featured an adult bartender and an adult crows, and that it was careful not to give the parrot a voice.

It added that similar ads with the parrot had appeared in other campaigns, and they had not received any complaints about those.

It also pointed to market research carried out on Parrot Bay that showed 82% of people it polled did not find the ad to be childish, and that the majority of people who had tried or heard of the brand were over 25. 

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