The advertisement opened with a visual outline of a fox. The sun was setting as a group of friends walked through the streets. One of the group spotted some activity up a laneway and encouraged the others to follow him. The group then entered a garden party and someone handed them two bottles of Orchard Thieves Cider which they drank directly from the bottles.
A different group of friends then appeared travelling on a bus, one member of the group was trying to take another’s phone. They arrived at a venue with a long queue forming outside, a stencil of the image of a fox appeared on the wall. The group followed the sign and arrived at a different venue where a party was taking place. Two pint bottles of cider and a glass of ice featured on a table and a pint of cider was being poured into a glass.
The original group of friends then featured again playing pool in a back garden, one girl robbed the white ball and ran away with it. The rest of the group chased her into the garden and through the house where people were dancing, one person was wearing a fox mask and another was spinning a picture on his fingers.
Meanwhile the second group of friends were portrayed at the end of the night eating sausages and chips in a chip shop while chatting. The final scene featured this group walking home together.
The above scenes were accompanied by a male voiceover as follows:
“The fox jumped up on a moonlight night. The stars they were shining and all things bright. “Oh, ho!” said the fox, “it’s a very fine night, for me to go through to the town-e-ho!” The fox when he came to the farmer’s gate, whom should he see but the farmer’s drake. “I love you well for your master’s sake, and long to be picking your bones-e-ho!”.
The farmer got up in his red cap and swore he would catch the fox in a trap, but the fox was too cunning and gave him the slip and ran through the town, the town-e-ho!
The on screen writing towards the end of the advertisement read “THIEVE A PINT AND MORE. DENOFTHIEVES.IE”
The final scene was a liquid shot of cider with ice. The titles and voiceover referred to
“ORCHARD THIEVES CIDER. BE BOLD” and was accompanied by the Fox logo.
The drink aware message also featured at the bottom of the screen “Enjoy Orchard Thieves sensibly. Visit drinkaware.ie”
The complainant said that his children switched on the television to watch afternoon cartoons on RTE 2. The television was set to RTE 1 and when it was switched on the Orchard Cider advertisement was playing. He said that the narrative of the advertisement was very attractive to children, his children were fascinated by the advertisement and asked him to buy the cider for them. He queried why advertising for alcohol featured at this time of day when children would be watching television.
The advertisers said that they had a number of television spots that ran out across the day and all of them were carefully profiled by the respective stations and their media buying agencies to ensure that they were only placed in programming with an adult audience profile of 75% or greater, which is in keeping with the guidelines set out for alcohol advertising. They said that the spot in question aired at 14.52pm on RTE 1 during the programme “Ireland’s Search and Rescue”, a programme which was not aimed at children. At the time in question RTE 1 were only picking up 7.5% of under 18 viewers, which was well under the mandatory 25% threshold. They said that while they would never place alcohol advertising in or around children’s programmes, what happened in this case was outside of their control i.e. the television set switching on automatically to RTE 1 when the complainant’s children were watching it.
The advertisers said that the story followed two separate groups of friends enjoying a night out. Both groups drank sensibly and not to excess. They had chosen a traditional folk poem “The Fox” to accompany their voiceover, as the Fox was their brand emblem both in Ireland and globally. They had chosen an actor to give authority and drama to the voiceover as they wanted a voice of a certain age to convey wisdom and worldliness. They had purposely avoided a cheerful or sing song tone as they wanted their audience to embrace the meaning behind the words. The language used was adult orientated, relatively complex and quite sophisticated. They said the behaviour portrayed, while being fun, was adult in nature and could not be classed as juvenile. They also said that those who appeared in the advertisement were over 25 years.
Complaint Not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that the advertisement in question had not been placed in or around children’s television programming and that the under 18’s audience for the time period was 7.5%. They accepted that it was not within the advertisers’ control which channel would be shown when a television was switched on.
The Committee noted that both the content and voiceover featured in the advertising were adult in nature. They acknowledged the potential appeal of animals, particularly smaller animals to children and noted that caution was required in their use to ensure that they did not appeal to children in a manner that might breach the Code requirements. They did not consider, however, that the portrayal of the animal in this case would have special appeal to children as the Fox had appeared as a silhouette. In arriving at this decision the Committee also took the overall content and tone of the advertisement into consideration. They noted that the advertising had not been cartoonish nor had it portrayed juvenile, childish or immature behaviour. They also noted that those who had featured had been over 25 years. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that the advertisement had breached the requirements of the Code.
No further action was required in this case.