Travelodge and Premier Inn ads rapped by ad watchdog

Premier Inn owner Whitbread has been slammed by the advertising watchdog after a television campaign featuring comedian Lenny Henry in a parody of horror movie The Shining was shown on a children’s channel.

Premier Inn’s TV campaign
Lenny Henry in Premier Inn’s TV campaign

The ad showed Henry in a “menacing fashion” attacking a door with an axe and putting his head through the hole and screaming “Here’s Lenny”.

The ad went on to show a calm Henry saying: “A bad night’s sleep at some hotels can really make you grumpy” and describing guests getting a good night’s sleep at Premier Inn.

The ad aired on children’s channel Nick Jr and complainants challenged the suitability of airing it at a time when children might see it.

Premier Inn said that the ad ran due to a scheduling error but it does not believe the ad would cause harm or distress to children as the “light-hearted” parody created a “comic atmosphere as opposed to one that was menacing or scary”.

The ASA noted the scheduling error but ruled that a time restriction that excluded children’s programming should have been applied.

Separately, rival budget hotel chain Travelodge’s campaign comparing its prices to Premier Inn has been banned for being misleading.

Premier Inn challenged the ad, which stated: “Travelodge. Big cities. Small prices”, on the grounds that it was unfair and inaccurate.

The ad included a table comparing Travelodge prices with those of Premier Inn but Premier Inn claims its promotional and online prices were excluded.

Travelodge believes the small print on the ad made it clear the prices included promotional and online Travelodge rates.

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