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Griefsploitation, body shaming and big blue bags

October 2017

A round-up of the latest advertising law issues. Last quarter was a busy time for advertising. Here is our round-up of the more controversial adverts that hit the legal headlines.

McDonald’s pulls advert

McDonald’s pulled its new television advert from screens following widespread criticism that it exploits child bereavement. The advertisement saw a boy ask his mother about what he has in common with his deceased father, eventually discovering that they shared the same favourite McDonald’s meal – the “Filet-o-Fish”. Social media and bereavement charities erupted in outrage accusing the fast food chain of taking advantage of child bereavement in order to sell fast food.

The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) confirmed that it has received a large number of complaints stating that it is inappropriate and insensitive to use bereavement and grief to sell fast food. The complainants also referenced the close proximity to Father’s Day. McDonald’s made the decision to withdraw the advertisement and confirmed that it will review its creative processes to ensure that the situation never occurs again. On this basis, the ASA concluded that an investigation was not needed. Arguably, the PR damage had already been done.

Protein World

An advert featuring Khloe Kardashian for Protein World was cleared by the ASA following complaints that it was “socially irresponsible”. The advert, resulted in 14 complaints to the ASA in which it was claimed that the advert promoted an unhealthy and competitive approach to dieting, and was therefore socially irresponsible. Protein World said the overall response they had received to the advert was that it was “motivating” and “empowering”, and they did not, therefore, believe it was socially irresponsible.

Crucially, the advert was submitted in advance to the CAP Copy Advice service which advised that the advert was unlikely to breach the CAP Code and Transport for London were also satisfied that the advert was compliant with its own regulations. In dismissing the complaint, the ASA stated that the advert “promoted Khloe Kardashian’s body image as desirable and aspirational” and that it “did not consider that she appeared to be out of proportion or unhealthy”. Liaising with the CAP Copy Advice service is always recommended prior to launching an advert.

Ikea

And finally, we saw Ikea respond cleverly to dispel any confusion in the marketplace between its blue Frakta bag and Balenciaga’s version, which is made of blue wrinkled leather and costs $2,145 (£1,672).

In response to the launch of the Balenciaga’s version, Ikea produced a helpful list of differences to ensure that consumers can tell if they are buying the original which are:-

  • Shake it. If it rustles, it’s the real deal.
  • Multifunctional. It can carry hockey gear, bricks and even water.
  • Throw it in the dirt. A true FRAKTA is simply rinsed off with a garden hose when dirty.
  • Fold it. Are you able to fold it to the size of a small purse? If the answer is yes, congratulations.
  • Look inside. The original has an authentic IKEA tag.
  • The price tag. Only $0.99.

A clever piece of PR for Ikea which demonstrates how to create positive publicity from a look-a-like product.

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