Skittles ‘granny flasher’ ad gets green light from ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed complaints against a Skittles television ad showing a grandmother ripping open her blouse and flashing at her grandson.

The ASA received 41 complaints about the ad, created by TBWA/London, saying the ad is offensive to women and is ageist and degrading to the elderly. Viewers also complained that it could encourage disrespect towards older people.

But the ASA has ruled that the ad, which features no nudity, is “surreal and light-hearted”.

In another instance, 55 viewers complained against a City & Guilds TV campaign showing a couple in bed listening to banging and groaning noises coming from their son’s bedroom next door. In the room is a young man with the imprints of two hands and a face shown wriggling under his skin. In the morning the boy looks into his mirror and a voiceover says: “You know the real you is in there somewhere – a City & Guilds qualification can help you find the right job to bring it out.”

Complainants said the ad, created by Archibald Ingall Stretton, is visually shocking and can scare children. Eight viewers also felt that the ad alludes to a sexual act and this is unsuitable for daytime viewing or before the watershed. But the ASA has not upheld the complaints, considering the horror element to be “very mild”.

The ASA has meanwhile upheld complaints from listeners concerned about two radio ads featuring characters inhaling helium from balloons. A ad created by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy and another for Mastercard created by McCann Erickson UK have both been pulled. The Travelocity ad features Alan Whicker appearing to inhale helium then talking more quickly in a high-pitched voice. The Mastercard ad features a man singing over the telephone to his girlfriend in a high-pitched voice. The voiceover says: “A mobile top-up card and two helium balloons: &£17. Making your girlfriend laugh however far away she is: Priceless.”

The ASA says there is evidence to confirm the inhaling of helium gas is a “potentially dangerous practice”.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here