The advert featured a holidaymaker deflating a coach tyre with a pair of pliers so he could stay at the resort. It ended with him jumping into a pool, followed by the strapline “Holidays you won’t want to return from”.
The TV spot sparked 118 complaints after it launched last December, with viewers challenging whether the advert encouraged anti-social behaviour and caused offence to victims of coach crashes. Of those, some 23 complainants raised concerns about the likelihood of the ad promoting irresponsible behaviour among children.
Thomas Cook defended the advert and claimed the “horrified” and “outraged” reactions of the other holidaymakers in the spot indicated the behaviour of the man letting down the tyre was not condoned. It pointed to Clearcast’s ex-kids timing restriction on the ad as a reflection of the efforts made to prevent younger children from viewing it.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it was not satisfied with the attempts made to prevent children viewing the advert and concluded it presented “unreasonable” risk that children would copy the behaviour. It did however, rule the advert did not condone violent behaviour and was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.