Dairylea cheese ad showing child eating while upside down banned over choking risk

Advertising Standards Authority says advert attracted 14 complaints alleging unsafe behaviour

An advert featuring two girls hanging upside down while one eats a Dairylea cheese triangle has been banned following complaints that it could encourage unsafe behaviour.

The video-on-demand ad, seen on ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5 in August, shows the girls hanging upside down from the crossbar of a goal at a local park and chatting. One wonders where food goes if you are upside down, and when the other suggests her brain, she opens the cheese snack and eats it.

Fourteen viewers complained that the advert condoned or encouraged unsafe behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it sought advice from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, whose view was that the scenario depicted in the ad represented a situation where there was potentially a high risk of choking.

The ASA also noted that one complainant had reported that their three-year-old relative, after seeing the ad, ate their food whilst hanging upside down.

The ASA said: “We therefore considered that eating whilst upside down was an unsafe practice and one which could be dangerous for children to emulate.

“We therefore concluded that a scheduling restriction was not sufficient to reduce the risk of harm and that the ad breached the code.”

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again, adding: “We told Mondelez UK to ensure their advertising did not condone or encourage unsafe practices.”

Dairylea owner Mondelez UK said it was “disappointed” by the ruling and that the ad’s purpose was to show parents allowing their children more freedom. The video included two supervising parents in the background.

Mondelez referred to a study showing that a person’s ability to swallow was not affected by their body position, including when eating upside down. Based on the research, and because Dairylea was a soft food, it considered there was a very low risk of choking when eating upside down.

The ad had also been given an “ex-kids” scheduling restriction, but Mondelez said it was no longer running the ad and would remove references to eating upside down if it was used in future.

A Mondelez spokesman said: “We recognise and will abide by the ASA’s decision but we are disappointed by the ruling.

“We carefully consulted with [pre-approval agency] Clearcast to pre-approve the content of this video on demand advert prior to airing.

“It was aimed at adults (parents) rather than young children and was deliberately scheduled away from programming likely to appeal to children under 16. As such, we believe it was unlikely to encourage ‘copycat’ behaviour by young children.

“We remain committed to responsible advertising and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all relevant UK regulations.”

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