An Instagram post for Offbeat Donuts featured three children sitting on a sofa watching the Late Late Toy Show. There was one person, shown at one end of the sofa, with an adult’s hand visible at the other end. One child had a box of popcorn on his lap. A cushion to the back of the sofa contained a cardboard box with “THE OFFBEAT DOZEN” written on the side of the box. The text provided alongside the imagery referred to the following:
“Offbeatsdonuts Tomorrow marks the OFFICIAL launch of Christmas... Who's tuning in for the LATE LATE TOY SHOW tomorrow night???
Grab a box of our NEW CHRISTMAS flavors to enjoy with the whole family!!!...
The second post featured a box of 12 Offbeat Donuts of different varieties. The top of the box read “Dear Santa” while the bottom of the box read “ONE DOZEN PLEASE! The box also contained a cartoon like image of Santa Clause in the bottom right hand corner and the bottom left hand corner featured the words “HO HO HO”. The text which accompanied the imagery read as follows:
“Offbeatdonuts Final requests for Santa on the lead up to the big day... we know what we want!!!”
Complaint Issue 1 - Post 1
The Irish Heart Foundation considered that the post encouraged excess consumption and poor nutritional habits in children. They said that while they were unable to access the calorie content of the donuts on the advertisers’ website, they estimated that the calorie content per donut would be somewhere in the region of 350 – 400 calories. They said given that the average calories for a child per day was 1550 – 1750, that eating a donut in their estimation would account for a lot of those calories and therefore this type of marketing was outrageous. They also considered it to be inappropriate to suggest that children should eat this amount of calories while watching the Toy Show alongside the additional calories featured in the box of popcorn. They acknowledged that there was at least one adult present in the post and possibly two.
Complaint Issue 2 - Post 2
The Irish Heart Foundation considered that the second post could possibly have been interpreted as being addressed to children with the “Dear Santa” message provided on the top of the box. They considered that the post encouraged excess consumption and poor nutritional habits in children.
The advertisers said that the posts in question had been added to their Instagram account during the Christmas trading period to promote their brand during a time when indulgence and fun were highly associated with the season in question. They said they wished to offer their assurance that their posts had not been directed to children but had rather been directed to adults who had the purchasing power. They said the average age of their Instagram followers was 25 and no advertising spend had been targeted at a younger audience.
The advertisers acknowledged that while Instagram as a platform had users as young as 13 their advertising had never been directed at this age group. They said the purpose of their advertising had not been to make light of healthy eating choices but reiterated that the purpose had been to involve their brand in the Christmas season alongside the nostalgia surrounding the Late Late Toy Show.
The advertisers provided the ASAI Executive with the kcal content per donut, the average kcals per ring donut was between 191kcals and 210kcals, with the average for ball donuts being 229kcals.
Finally they said as a brand they very much supported the ethos of everything in moderation and they were extremely mindful of never promoting over excess of their product.
Complaints Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Complaint 1 – Post 1
The Committee noted that while the post referenced the Late Late Toy Show (a programme of particular interest for children), the average age of the page’s followers was 25 and that the post was not targeted through its content at children. They considered that while a product pack of twelve donuts was displayed, there was no call to action nor implication of one, to consume all twelve donuts in one sitting.
In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the advertisement encouraged excess consumption, unhealthy eating habits or poor nutritional habits in children. They did not consider that Post 1 was in breach of the Code.
Complaint 2 – Post 2
The Complaints Committee considered that while the content of the post was such that it was likely to be of interest to children, the average age of the page’s followers was 25 and they therefore did not consider on balance that the advertisement was addressed to children. In the context of the media and the average age of the page’s followers, the Committee did not consider that the post was in breach of the Code.
No further action required.