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Advertiser: Crown Paints Ireland Limited
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 3.20
The television advertisement depicted a group of people singing a song which told the story of a couple, Hannah and Dave, who had a “baby on the way”. Within this story, the audience was told that Hannah never wanted children which, according to one of the singers, was “fine – at least for a time…”. However, as the story progressed, the audience was told that Hannah had now changed her mind and that “one day out of the blue, she stopped thinking ‘no’ – then she threw herself at Dave and said, ‘come on, let’s go!’”. Towards the end of the advertisement, another line within the song in relation to Hannah’s pregnancy said, “Hannah is hoping for a girl, Dave’s just hoping that it’s his”. The advertisement then finished with scenes of pregnant Hannah and Dave painting their new baby’s room as a voice over said “Crown – it’s not just paint, it’s personal”.
Seven complaints were received in relation to the advertising campaign raising the following issues based upon the above quotes:
Complainants considered that the lines “fine – at least for a time…” and “one day out of the blue, she stopped thinking ‘no’ – then she threw herself at Dave and said, ‘come on, let’s go!’” implied that Hannah was forced to change her mind about her stance on having children.
Complainants considered that the line “Hannah is hoping for a girl, Dave’s just hoping that it’s his” was offensive and misogynistic and implied that Hannah had several sexual partners and therefore could not be sure of the father of her child.
The advertisers expressed their disappointment that complaints had been received in relation to the advertisement and said that the series of ‘Life Story’ advertisements were intended to be a creative and light-hearted portrayal of the moments in life that can prompt people to paint their rooms.
In relation to the specific Code sections under which the complaints were primarily considered, the advertisers stated that they understood every complaint must be taken seriously and expressed regret that the complainants were offended by the execution of the advertisement, however, they said they did not believe that seven complaints could be seen to constitute ‘grave or widespread’ offence given that the advertisement was seen by 1.7 million adults in Ireland. They also said that they did not see any evidence which suggested that the advertisement would be likely to cause any further hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule beyond the seven complainants.
In relation to the considerations around respecting the dignity of all persons and respecting the principle of equality, the advertisers said they were comfortable that their advertising was designed to show a strong, supportive and equal relationship, where joint decisions around important life events were being made. They said their delivery of this was designed to be tinged with an element of light-hearted humour but that they absolutely did not set out to actively create advertising designed to upset public sensitivities by doing so. They said they understood that humour was subjective and whilst taking the complaints seriously, they also received many comments from those who supported and enjoyed the advertisement.
In response to section 2.4(c) relating to the targeting and context of the communications, the advertisers clarified that the advertising was designed to primarily appeal to those people more likely to be embarking on special periods in life – in this case having a baby - and therefore would potentially be looking to redecorate a room in anticipation of that life event. They said that the advertisement in question was one of a suite which were being broadcast at the same time showing a range of such events which viewers, or their friends and family might be experiencing.
The advertisers said that the media targeting for this specific advertisement was designed to prioritise a target audience more likely to be in the stage of life where they may be looking to have children. They said, however, the use of broadcast media was intended to show the Crown brand, and its products in the context of a range of big ‘life events’ where paint may be needed to support the viewer in seeing a connection between the event and their products.
In response to the two identifiable issues referenced in the seven complaints, the advertisers said they believed that the advertisement at the heart of the complaints told the personal story of one particular couple who were happily having a baby together – an event which led them to paint their room hence the relevance to the brand. They said they understood that this situation was not the same for everyone and that the advertisement was certainly not intended to portray this scenario as the ‘better option’ or the norm. The advertisers clarified that in this story, the couple’s views on parenthood changed over time which they said was a reality for some in real life. They said it was also worth noting that Hannah, their strong female character, was clearly seen as the lead protagonist when it came to having a baby and was in control of her own decisions.
In response to the line “Hannah’s hoping for a girl, Dave’s just hoping that it’s his”, the advertisers said their intention was to tap into real life and to reflect something that people can and do say to each other in a humorous and non-stereotypical way. They said that Dave’s comment in the advertisement was an example of things a couple might light-heartedly say about their situation when in a loving relationship - knowing there was no intent of malice, hurt or accusation. The advertisers said they believed that the actor’s delivery of the line also emphasised the light-hearted intent.
The advertisers re-iterated that they did not set out to receive complaints and were disappointed that some people were offended by their advertisement. However, they said, they appreciated that, particularly where humour was used, people’s tastes could differ. They clarified that, based on their own research, they believed that the vast majority of people would see the advertisement as it was intended; a distinct, engaging way of depicting a real-life story showing two people who were both happy, confident, empowered and comfortable with each other and the relationship they shared.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Not Upheld.
The Committee noted the advertisers’ comments that the couple’s views on parenthood changed over time. The Committee noted the reference to time passing and that Hannah changed her own mind in the line “then one day out of the blue, she stopped thinking ‘no’”. The Complaints Committee did not find evidence in the advertisement that Hannah was forced to change her stance on having children.
Issue 2 – Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee noted that the delivery of the line within the advertisement was done so in a light-hearted manner. When taken as a whole and in context, the Committee considered that the advertisement did not contain gravely offensive material. While accepting that viewers may not have considered the line appropriate, the Committee did not find evidence of grave or widespread offence.
No further action required.