The Cactus Kid campaign for Oasis, the Coca-Cola drinks brand, has triggered a wave of complaints from consumers for being offensive and irresponsible.
The ads, which broke on July 3, tells the “tongue-in-cheek” story of a young girl and her boyfriend Cactus Kid, a half man, half cactus hybrid, who are united in their love of Oasis and dislike of water. One execution shows the pair telling the girl’s mother that she is having his baby.
The ASA has received 11 complaints that the ad is offensive because it normalises or glamourises teenage pregnancy and that it is also irresponsible for suggesting people should drink Oasis instead of water. There are also concerns about whether the female character is a minor and that the ad has been scheduled inappropriately.
The campaign, which is shot in the style of films such as Thelma and Louise and True Romance, has three executions but a fourth ad has been shot with two different endings so viewers can vote on how the story ends. All of the ads will be shown in sequence to show the whole story at the end of the campaign. There is also online activity with blogs and specific sites dedicated to the different points of view of each character.
Responding to the complaints, Coke says: “These are clearly fictitious characters and the ads are designed to be satirical takes on popular film genres with adult humour, created to appeal specifically to our 20-something audience. The young woman portrayed in the ad is played by an actress who is 22, it is not our intention to set a bad example. We have employed careful and considerate media buying around TV programmes in line with OFCOM restrictions and that are highly targeted towards an adult audience.”
The ASA has not decided whether to investigate the complaints and says it is currently assessing the situation.