Advertising in a Lidl brochure for a stand-up paddle board with the caption “POOL TIME BEACH FASHION & FUN” featured an image of a man out in the water on a paddle board. The dimensions for the paddle board were provided alongside the fact that it carried a maximum weight of “150kg. To the left of the image the following text was provided:
PADDLING GUIDANCE from the RNLI Lifeboats
If you do use an inflatable at the beach:
• Keep a way of calling for help attached in your pocket
• Check the weather and tides
• Wear your buoyancy aid
• Tell someone where you’ll be going and when you’ll be back
• Wear appropriate clothing and don’t go out in conditions you can’t handle
• If you fall in the water. Float to live.
• IN AN EMERGENCY DIAL 999 OR 112 AND ASK FOR THE COAST GUARD
• FOR MORE INFORMATION RNLI.org/paddlinglidl
• The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea…”
A complaint was received from Water Safety Ireland in relation to the fact that the man featured on the paddle board was not wearing a life jacket. They said it was against the law to be out on a craft of this size without a life jacket. They cited Section 6(1)A of the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005 which states that:
“A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.”
They asked that the photograph be withdrawn as it had the potential to encourage people not to wear a life jacket when using watercrafts, which may result in the loss of life.
The advertisers said they were committed to full compliance with ASAI Code in their advertising and took great care to ensure that advertisements were responsible and did not portray illegal behaviour.
They said they were aware that water safety concerns arose from time to time with regard to some of their products and they took particular care to ensure that appropriate information was made available to their customers and that their products were presented in a responsible way. In relation to the advertisement in question, they said it had to be noted that out of a full-page advertisement in their leaflet, a third of the advertising space for the product was devoted to water safety information that included advice to wear buoyancy aids (i.e., life jackets).
The advertisers said they respectfully disagreed that there was a legal obligation for users of stand up paddle boards to wear life jackets. While life jackets were mandated for use on certain watercrafts governed by the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005 (as amended), Regulations 5 to 7 provided that personal flotation devices are mandated by persons on a “pleasure craft” or “personal watercraft”. For the purpose of these requirements the term “pleasure craft” is defined to include “personal watercraft and fast powered craft”. The definition of a personal watercraft as contained in the Maritime Safey Act 2005 (as amended) indicates that it relates to jet ski or other such similar vehicles. They considered it to be apparent, therefore, that these regulations were drafted in such a way that they were intended to apply to boats and other such craft rather than surf boards and paddle boards.
In conclusion the advertisers said they considered that their depiction of the paddle board in their advertising was both lawful and in compliance with the ASAI Code.
The Executive accessed the information provided from the link in the advertisement (RNLI.org/paddlinglidl) and noted the following information that was provided:
“Simple tips to improve your time paddleboarding
You should wear a suitable personal flotation device. This can be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Choose one that still allows you plenty of movement so you can paddle freely. Not only will it keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in – and chances are you will!”
Frequently asked questions:
Do I need to wear a lifejacket when paddleboarding?
Choosing the right personal flotation device (PFD) for paddleboarding can give you peace of mind and help keep you afloat if you fall in (which you will!). You should choose a PFD that allows you to move your arms freely, so you can paddle as efficiently as you want. Find out more about the different types of PFD in our Choose It, Wear It guide - PDF 3.48MB”
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the further information sourced by the Executive. They noted the information provided on the legal requirements for situations when wearing personal floatation devices (PFD) was mandated by law but that it did not apply to paddle boards.
The Committee also noted, however, that the Code requirement was that a marketing communication should not encourage or condone dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices. (s. 3.24). They also noted the advice from the RNLI that PDFs should be worn when paddleboarding. While noting the inclusion of water safety advice in the advertisement, the Committee considered that the visual of person on a paddle board without a PFD could encourage an unsafe practice. In the circumstances they considered that the advertisement was in breach of Section 3.24 of the Code.
The advertisement should not appear in the same format.