The ad showed Wright with a bunch of kids who reel off a list of top footballers. Wright says “Shaun Wright-Philips” and one of the children rolls their eyes while another one says “Is he worth a week’s pocket money? Is anyone? Rooney and Drogba in the same pack going for big money … They’re giving away the new season.”
Two complainants said that the ad, which promoted a giveaway of Topps Match Attax cards, encouraged children to buy a product that was not suitable for the age group.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also challenged whether the ad , in particular the reference to “pocket money”, directly exhorted kids to buy The Sun or encouraged them to ask other people to buy it for them to get the football cards.
News International, publisher of The Sun, said that it was a family newspaper and disputed that it was unsuitable for children but said that the ad was firmly aimed at and intended for adults.
It pointed out that the references to pocket money in the ad were meant to be a “humorous juxtaposition between a children’s football game and the escalating prices in the English transfer market.”
The publisher said that it would be careful with the use of children in future ads to prevent any possibility of directly exhorting children to buy the newspaper.
The ASA agreed that The Sun was a family newspaper and that the ad promoted the football cards available with the paper to a family audience.
However, it considered the statement about pocket money too subtle a reference to transfer fees and some youngsters would think the claim meant it was worth buying The Sun with their pocket money to get the Match Attax cards. The use of Wright talking to a group of children reinforced the view of the ad as directly targeting kids.