ASA decrees Home Office drink ad is not offensive

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints that an anti-drunkeness ad from the Home Office, which shows a young man falling from scaffolding, might cause general offence or scare children.

The ad, created by United London, shows young people drinking on a street at night. A girl loses hold of a bunch of balloons, which float away and gets tangled on some scaffolding. A young man, imagining he is dressed as a superhero, climbs the scaffolding like an acrobat, but slips and falls to the ground, where he lies either dead or seriously injured.

A voiceover states: “Too much alcohol makes you feel invincible when you’re most vulnerable,” while on-screen text reads: “Alcohol. Know your limits. knowyourlimits.gov.uk.”

Some viewers said they had either witnessed a fall or lost a family member after a fall and found the ads too graphic. Others said the ads were running too early, at a time when they were being seen by their children and causing them distress.

United argued that the ads need to run early evening to catch the target audience – viewers aged 18 to 24. The agency pointed to re-search that showed one in eight deaths amongst 15 to 19 year-old-men in the UK is alcohol related.

The ASA has also rejected complaints that an ad showing a King Prawn instead of the baby Jesus in a Nativity scene was blasphemous.

The ad, run in The Grocer magazine, showed a painting of the Nativity with a prawn in the manger, with copy reading: “A king is born. Order now to ensure a Christmas delivery.”

The ASA ruled that the ad was obviously light-hearted and was unlikely to cause widespread offense.

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