ASA Adjudication on Argos Ltd
489–499 Avebury Boulevard
Saxon Great West
Central Milton Keynes
27 June 2012
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for Argos promoted a range of summer products. One scene showed an alien child performing sideways somersaults on a trampoline.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because the trampoline was being used in a dangerous manner.
Argos Ltd (Argos) said they were aware of the requirements of the BCAP code and had taken steps to ensure that the trampoline scene was suitable for use in the advert. They had positioned the trampoline in a safe area of the garden, away from potential hazards, and had inserted a safety net around it as well as showing that the alien child's parents were present to supervise her play. They stated that they had taken care to avoid showing the alien performing a realistic move that a child could look to emulate. They had instead portrayed a trick that was clearly fantastical as it was done at a slow speed and with no apparent effort. Argos argued that this was no different to any other instance where TV characters with supernatural powers were shown performing stunts beyond the abilities of humans and said they did not believe the scene promoted unsafe behaviour or showed the trampoline being used in an unsafe manner. They also said the scene in question was fleeting and obscured by other movements in the ad and no attempt was made to highlight or focus on the image of the alien performing on the trampoline.
Clearcast said they had had lengthy discussions with the advertising agency with regards to the safety precautions required for this scene. They thought it was acceptable because it showed parental supervision and the use of a safety net, because the alien child looked to be the right age to use the trampoline and because she was using it for the purpose for which it was intended. Clearcast also felt that the agency was able to use some degree of creative licence because the child in question was an alien puppet performing a move which defied gravity, and therefore could not be emulated. They noted the surreal aspect of the ad and believed that viewers would not take the scene literally because they would understand that the alien characters behaved differently to humans.
The ASA noted the safety precautions incorporated into the scene, including the presence of the alien child's parents to supervise her play, and the fact that the trampoline featured only briefly in the ad. We acknowledged Clearcast's view that the alien was using the trampoline for the purpose for which it was intended and understood that the characters involved were aliens and approached tasks differently to humans. We noted that the somersault performed on the trampoline was done effortlessly at a slow speed, sideways and with straight limbs. We understood that this was a surreal interpretation of a child using a trampoline and considered it was therefore sufficiently clear to viewers that the alien could defy gravity and that they would not be able to replicate the manoeuvre themselves. Because we considered that viewers would understand they should not try to use the trampoline in the same way as the aliens did, we concluded that the ad was not irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.4 (Harm and offence) and 5.2 (Children) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.