ASA Adjudication on Universal Pictures International UK & Eire Ltd
Universal Pictures International UK & Eire Ltd
1 Central St. Giles
St. Giles High Street
5 September 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
Mediacom Holdings Ltd
A website ad, on www.tedisreal.co.uk, showed an adult male and a large teddy bear standing in front of urinals, with their backs to the viewer. The teddy bear held a glass beer bottle in one hand. Text at the top of the image stated "the first motion picture from the creator of family guy ... ted In Cinemas August 1, 2012".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because they believed the association of a children's toy with alcohol was likely to appeal to children.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Universal Pictures International UK & Eire Ltd (Universal) said the film had been given a '15' classification and was aimed at a predominantly adult audience. They said that, because teddy bears were associated with childhood, they had taken steps to ensure the image would not appeal to children or mislead or confuse viewers into understanding that the film was directed at children. They said the ad did not use a colour scheme or images (other than the teddy bear) which might appeal to children, and they believed that, by putting the teddy bear into an otherwise 'adult' context, it was clear the poster was not for a children's film. All advertising materials had also stated the film's classification.
Universal said they accepted that teddy bears were inherently appealing to infants and very young children, but because such children would be unaware of the concept of alcohol, the ad would not encourage them to drink it. They said the bottle did not have a label which identified it as containing alcohol, and whilst adults or teenagers might associate such a bottle with alcohol, other drinks, including soft drinks, were available in bottles of a similar shape and colour. Young children would therefore be unlikely to recognise it as containing alcohol.
Universal considered the ad would not appeal to older children or teenagers because they were typically dismissive of toys, such as teddy bears, which they associated with younger children. They said the ad also did not include anything which might be associated with 'youth' culture, did not show anyone behaving in an adolescent or juvenile way, and the scene was not glamorous or attractive. They said that even if young people understood that the bottle contained alcohol, the ad did not include anything which reflected an unwise style of drinking or drinking to excess. They considered the ad would not encourage under 18-year-olds to drink alcohol at all.
Universal said that, following receipt of the complaint, they had added an age-gate to the website; visitors must enter a date of birth which showed they were over 15 to gain access. They said the age-gate alerted visitors that the website contained content which was not suitable for children under the age of 15.
The ASA acknowledged that Universal had added an age-gate to the website following receipt of the complaint. Notwithstanding that, we noted the complainant's concerns but considered the ad was unlikely to appeal particularly to people under the age of 18 in a way that might encourage them to drink. Whilst we acknowledged the image of a teddy bear might appeal to younger children, we considered that even if they were aware of alcohol and recognised the bottle as a beer bottle, the overall content of the ad was unlikely to encourage them to drink. We also considered that although teenagers would be more likely to recognise the bottle as a beer bottle, the ad would also not have a particular appeal to them or encourage them to drink. We concluded the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 18.1 and 18.14 (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.