ASA slams Powerade and Virgin Media ads

Coca-Cola and Virgin Media have been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) although a risqué ad for deodorant brand Lynx has escaped censure.

A TV spot for Coca-Cola-owned Powerade came under fire for showing a cyclist without reflective clothing or lights. The ASA upheld a complaint against the McCann Erickson-created ad, on health and safety grounds.

McCann Erickson says the ad was one in a series following a man training for his first triathlon. It says the ad looked darker than it was because it was shot without traditional lighting equipment. There are no plans to broadcast it again.

Complaints against two Virgin Media press ads have been upheld after being referred to the authority by rival BSkyB and a member of the public. The ads, headlined the “real deal” aimed to show consumers how the cable company compared favour-ably to Sky for bundled TV, broadband and phone deals.

Sky challenged the ads on six counts, all of which were upheld on grounds of substantiation, truthfulness and comparisons with identified competitors and/or their products. Virgin Media says it is “disappointed” with the decision but has no plans to run the ads again.

It is understood that Virgin Media has also complained to the ASA about a Sky comparative advertising campaign.

The TV spot for Unilever’s Lynx showed a young woman pushing an older woman in a wheelchair, but abandoning her when she smells a supermarket worker’s deodorant.

Complainants said it was offensive towards disabled people implying they could be discarded. However, the ASA considered that the ad showed a “clearly fictional” situation, which was intended to be humorous.

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