ASA bans ‘Cactus Kid’ ads for pushing underage sex

Coca-Cola’s controversial television ads for its Oasis juice drink, featuring the “Cactus Kid” and his runaway pregnant girlfriend, have been banned by the advertising regulator for condoning underage sex and teenage pregnancy.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which received 32 complaints against the two TV ads, has also censured the advertiser for promoting Oasis as a substitute for water and disparaging good dietary practice.

The campaign, created by Mother, uses the strapline: “For people who don’t like water” and tells the story of the outcast “Cactus Kid” – a man with cactus spikes covering his body and his love-stuck girlfriend, who runs away from home after falling in love with a James Dean-like “half cactus, half man hybrid”.

Coca-Cola has said that the campaign was shot in the style of “classic American road movies”, which is why it used edgy humour, popular with Oasis’ target audience of people in their 20s.

The ASA has, however, ruled that though the girl featured in the ad was 20 years old, her youthful appearance and reference to her pregnancy was both offensive and inappropriate.

And the ASA has also ruled that while the ad did not suggest Oasis was healthier than water, it implied that the sugary drink was a replacement for water. The regulator has said that the ad cannot be broadcast again in its current form.

Last year, an Oasis ad that showed a vicious attack by a crocodile on a wildebeest triggered 180 complaints, making the campaign the sixth most complained about ad in 2007.

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