O2 “demon” ad cleared of scaring kids

O2’s fantasy television spot featuring a demon-like woman has been cleared of frightening children by the advertising watchdog.


The mobile network operator’s TV ad showed a faun standing beneath a tree saying he is in “O2’s mind”. A woman called Mel appears and the faun says that the mobile operator thought “What if Mel was out shopping one day and she spots an offer for new customers that’s better for the deal she’s on?”

The woman then becomes angry and turns into a demon-like creature with wings and horns before being pacified by O2’s pledge to existing customers and changing back.

The ad was shown throughout the day and eight viewers complained that it could scare children and was inappropriately scheduled.

O2 says it was never its intention to cause distress to children and it had followed compliance expert Clearcast’s advice. Clearcast said that the wicked fairy creature with talons and fangs was the kind of character who might appear in a fairy tale, children’s Disney film or pantomime and children were familiar with that type of character.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that the transformation scene was in the context of a fantastical scenario and, while dramatic, was “not overtly frightening or sinister”. It did not think that the ad’s content or scheduling would cause distress to young children.

It also dismissed complaints that the ad was misleading because it implied that O2 offered the best deals to existing customers, whereas only those at the end of their contract were eligible for best deals.

The ASA said that that viewers were familiar with mobile phone contracts commitments and the line “we’ll make sure our existing customers always get our very best deals when they stay with us” made it clear the ad was targeting customers coming to the end of their contract.

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 customerservices@marketingweek.com

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