Morrisons, whose ad showed a dog being fed Christmas pudding, attracted 234 complaints the ad was “irresponsible and harmful” because common ingredients such as raisins are lethal to dogs. Complainants, including a number of animal charities and vets, claimed the ad implied it is acceptable to feed dogs Christmas pudding and would encourage children to do so.
The supermarket, which took advice from a former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons before making the ad, says it would never condone feeding “non-standard canine food” to a dog.
The ASA ruled that the ad showed feeding Christmas pudding to a dog in an “unfavourable light” and made it clear it was inappropriate. The watchdog added it is parents’ responsibility to educate children to not feed unsuitable foods to dogs.
Meanwhile, Boots’ Christmas ad featured a scene in which a young girl used a hair drier on her dog while whispering “Let’s make make you into a unicorn”.
There were 21 complaints the ad was “irresponsible” because it encouraged children or adults to copy the “potentially unsafe” behaviour.
The ASA ruled the scene was “brief and mild” and did not encourage irresponsible behaviour.
Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association, which lodged a complaint against the Morrisons ad, says: “This ruling is disappointing but the ASA has set out its reasons for the decision and we accept those reasons. Thankfully, the advert only had a short shelf life and we hope that Morrisons is now very unlikely to make the same mistakes again. Overall, we hope the whole incident has served to educate Morrisons and the general public about the dangers of grapes and raisins to dogs.”
The RSPCA says: “While the ASA has cleared both of the adverts, it is still heartening to note that the public are generally concerned about the welfare of animals and will increasingly question how they are depicted in adverts.”