The television advertisement opened with the following on-screen text:
“We helped Kieran and Laura come home from Australia. Bringing their new baby to Ireland for the first time.”
We then see a grandmother warming her hands at the fire before arranging photographs on the mantelpiece. There is a wedding photograph and a photograph of a baby in a frame with the name “Caroline”. The grandmother then places a welcome home poster in the window and goes outside to view it. It says “Welcome home Laura and Kieran.”
The scene switches to the airport and we see a plane coming in to land and a young woman holding a balloon which says “welcome” and a man looking anxiously at his watch. We then see a couple with their backs to us preparing to walk into the arrivals hall, it become obvious that the couple featured are Kieran and Laura.
The scene switches again to the grandmother who is taking something out of the fridge. On the fridge door we see a picture of a young couple and a postcard from Australia. The grandmother puts flowers in a vase.
We then see the couple arriving into the arrivals hall at the airport, the husband (Kieran) is pushing the baggage trolley and the young woman (Laura) is holding the baby (Caroline). The father, seen previously looking at his watch, and daughter embrace and the grandfather holds his grandchild for the first time.
Son in law “You’re the first one to hold her on this side of the water now.”
The family are next featured travelling by car. The baby is asleep in the back. The grandfather, as he drives, looks over his shoulder to gaze at the baby.
The scene switches back to the house where the grandmother is fixing a baby bassinet and placing cuddly toys in it. She looks out the window and cries “Oh my God here they come!” and rushes out to meet the visitors. The grandmother then returns to the kitchen to fry sausages and prepare a full Irish Breakfast. The family sit down to eat breakfast together and the on-screen text reads:
“Filmed with love and care for Denny – The Taste of Home”
The complainant objected to the depiction of the grandfather taking his eyes off the road to look at his grandchild in the back of the car. He considered this action to be hazardous to both the occupants of the car and to oncoming traffic. He also considered the action to be non-compliant with the Road Safety Authority’s (RSA) television campaign which contained the message; “Don’t Lose a lifetime looking back”. This campaign highlighted the dangers of travelling with children in a car and drivers taking their attention off the road to check on their children in the back seat while driving.
The advertisers said that as a family brand, family safety was of the upmost importance to them and it was never their intention to depict a dangerous situation in their advertising. They said that while they understood the complainant’s concern, they considered there were significant differences between the RSA campaign and the scene depicted in their advertisement. They said that the RSA campaign had focused on creating awareness around the dangers of child distractions on the road, these distractions were typically centred on engaging with children in the back seats of cars alongside the interactions between children and adults trying to pacify them.
The advertisers said that while there was a very brief moment in the advertisement where the grandfather looked back at the sleeping baby, he had not been distracted by the child nor indeed had he engaged in conversation with her or pacified her. They also said the advertisement had been filmed on a rural straight road which had not been congested.
The Secretariat asked the advertisers to comment on the safety precautions they had taken into consideration when filming the driving scene.
The advertisers said they reviewed the RSA website and considered it to be clear that the key element of concern around “looking back” was centred on the driver being distracted and jeopardising the quality of his/her driving, they considered that looking back per se had not been highlighted as a concern. In their advertising they said that the grandfather had looked over his shoulder for a very brief moment, which was under a second in duration. It was evident that the child was sleeping and there were no distractions to the grandfather’s driving or any interaction between him and the child. They reiterated that the advertisement had been filmed on a rural straight road and as a moving vehicle was involved in filming they also took the following precautions:
1. The road was cleared of all traffic, both oncoming traffic and traffic travelling in the same direction.
2. A controlled Speed limit was followed and the car did not travel over 30 kilometres an hour.
3. All passengers in the car wore seatbelts.
4. There were no distractions to the driver in the car.
The Secretariat then asked the RSA for their opinion in the matter. They said that the key message in their advertising campaign referenced by the complainant was to never let a child take a driver’s focus off the road and that drivers should pull off the road rather than let this happen. They said that the cost involved was too high should a driver take their eyes off the road for even ‘one second’. Their message was that when driving, the road needs everybody’s full focus.
In conclusion, the RSA said that it was their considered view that it would have been preferable if the Denny marketing communication had not featured the segment of the driver looking back, as the driver had been distracted from the task of observing the road while driving.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the observations of the RSA. The Committee accepted that while it had not been the intention of the advertisers to condone unsafe driving practices, the behaviour portrayed in the advertisement depicted unsafe practices. In the circumstances they considered they advertisement to be in breach of Sections 2.2 and 2.29 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.