The post on a celebrity’s Instagram account featured him sitting on the end of a sofa with his hand under his chin. He was accompanied by four children varying in age from approximately 5 years to 16 years old.
Two children sat on the arms of the sofa while the other two took up different sitting positions on the couch. All children were engaged in different activities. Two appeared to be on their phones, one was listening to music while the other appeared to be reading.
The text accompanying the post read:
“A recent survey said parents feel they spend less time with their family than they did when they were young. Cadbury Heroes wants to help fix this. They'll help me out of my comfort zone to connect more with my teens. Any suggestions you guys?? What do you do? I’m all ears??? #AD
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) said that the post had appeared on the Instagram feed of a 14-year-old teenager. They considered that the post was inappropriate as it suggested that families should unite with Cadbury’s Heroes. They said it was irresponsible to use emotionally engaging communication linking celebrities, chocolates and young families.
They considered the advertisement to be in breach of the ASAI Code as it had featured a celebrity alongside young children, promoting a high fat sugar and salt (HFSS) product to children.
The advertisers said that they were committed to advertising their products in line with the ASAI Code and took it into due regard in all their marketing communications. They said they never marketed directly to any children under the age of 18 and all their advertising and promotional campaigns were targeted at adults. They said as one of the UK’s largest branded food manufacturers, they knew they have an obligation, along with the rest of the food industry, to ensure that they adhered and conducted their activities according to the relevant codes and they fully complied with the EU Pledge (1). They said the post in question was no exception in this regard.
The advertisers said that the celebrity mentioned by the complainants had an audience made up of primarily adults, with only 1% of the audience being made up of children under 18. They provided the ASAI Executive with a breakdown of the audience statistics.
They said that the celebrity’s appeal to adults was also demonstrated by the media engagement he had been involved in historically.
The advertisers said that the overreaching message of the Cadbury Heroes campaign was to appeal to parents through a family scenario. The campaign had included videos which featured families enjoying activities together and finding new moments of connection.
They said that the Instagram post in question had included a visual of an unhappy looking influencer accompanied by the text “Cadbury Heroes want to fix this” and “connect with more teens”. They had intended this to be playful and cheeky and had used the emojis of the grinning and crying with laughter faces to demonstrate this fact.
They said the playful element was further established in the light-hearted and funny efforts made by the influencer to learn new skills which he had performed in the content.
In the latter part of his post the advertisers said that he had asked for suggestions on how to find moments to bond with family members. This demonstrated the modest intentions of the campaign which was to spark conversations about how small moments could play a little role in helping to create moments of connections between families.
In conclusion the advertisers reiterated that they had not directly targeted children nor did the Cadbury Heroes brand itself have an appeal to children as it was predominantly purchased by mature adults for a special occasion. Furthermore, they said that the channel of the post was not exclusive to children with the vast majority of Instagram users being 18+. Likewise, they said the influencer was not a celebrity popular with children as demonstrated by the audience statistics provided by them which indicated that his audience profile was made up of 99% adults.
(1) The EU Pledge is a voluntary initiative by leading food and beverage companies to change the way they advertise to children. This is a response from industry leaders to calls made by the EU institutions for the food industry to use commercial communications to support parents in making the right diet and lifestyle choices for their children. https://eu-pledge.eu
Complaint Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted the audience profile for the Instagram account in question and did not consider that the target audience for the post had been children.
The Committee also noted the Code requirement at 8.22(a) that “celebrities popular with children should always be used with a due sense of responsibility.” They considered that great care should be exercised when using celebrities that may be popular with children. In this case, as the influencer’s audience profile was 99% adult, with 76% in the 25-44 age bracket, the Committee concluded that the advertising was not in breach of the Code on the basis of the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.