ASA investigates Morrisons Xmas ads

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched two formal investigations into Morrisons’ festive adverts on separate counts of sexism and for the potential harm one of the ads could cause to dogs if emulated – as it features a dog being fed a “potentially lethal” Christmas pudding.

A 20-second ad from the supermarket has been met with backlash from dog charities and veterinary groups because it features a boy handing a dog some Christmas pudding under the table. The 150 complainants to the ASA have asserted this could kill a dog if emulated because raisins can cause kidney failure in the animals.

Complaints to the ASA have challenged that the ad is “irresponsible” and “harmful” because it implies it is acceptable to feed Christmas pudding to dogs and that it could encourage children to feed Christmas pudding to dogs – even though the dog is not actually seen eating it in the ad.

Last week The Kennel Club became the latest group to express concern about the ad, which was created by DLKW Lowe. It also said by exposing children to this advert it may encourage them to copy the behaviour and “poison their beloved pet dog”.

Nick Sutton, The Kennel Club’s health and information officer, added: “We ask that Morrisons take action by no longer showing this advert and educate their customers about the potentially lethal effects of feeding Christmas pudding and other Christmas treats to their dog.”

The British Veterinary Association has described the ad as “disappointing”, while a group on Facebook called “Morrisons Christmas pudding TV ad could kill” has attracted more than 1,300 likes.

Separately the ad watchdog has also launched a formal investigation into the Morrisons TV spot that forms the bulk of the supermarket’s Christmas ad campaign.

The regulator has received 18 complaints that the ad – which features a disgruntled mother character preparing for the big day – alleging it is “offensive” and “sexist” because it reinforces “outdated” stereotypes of men and women in the home.

A Morrisons spokesman says: “Of course we’ll help the Advertising Standards Authority and we’re sorry that we’ve caused concern to some dog lovers. We would never run any advert that encouraged poor pet care and we were very careful to take veterinary advice prior to filming the advert and we ensured we had a vet present during filming.  The veterinary advice we received concluded that there would be minimal, if any, risk to a dog of serious toxic reaction should a small amount, in relation to its body weight, of Christmas cake or pudding be consumed on a one-off basis. We certainly aren’t recommending that dogs should be allowed to eat Christmas pudding. The adverts were part of a wider story and we’ll be moving to the next phase this week.”

The ASA confirmed last month it is also investigating rival Asda’s “Behind every great Christmas there’s mum” ad, which has sparked nearly 200 complaints since its launch and a social media and campaign group backlash, again around sexism and reinforcing negative gender stereotypes.

Elsewhere, Barclaycard’s Christmas ad has also sparked complaints about sexism to the advertising regulator for “encouraging gender stereotyping”, whilst Boots’ festive campaign is being investigated by the regulator after viewers objected to a child blow-drying a dog in the spot.

John Lewis was forced to re-edit its 2010 Christmas campaign after it sparked complaints for featuring a dog left out alone in the snow.

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