A Vodafone ad featuring an iffy knife and toaster combination has been pulled up by the Advertising Standards Authority for encouraging a disregard of safety and social responsibility.
The 15-second ad for Supa Prepay by agency .99 featured an actor trying to retrieve toast from a toaster, but cut away just before he inserted a knife into the appliance.
An accompanying voice-over said: “Bonus weekend minutes when you top up on Supa Prepay: another way to get more than you bargained for.”
Multiple complaints were received about the ad, largely related to the fact if copied by anyone it would result in electrocution or at least a serious shock.
The Commercials Approval Bureau classified the ad as “GXC”, which allowed it to be broadcast at any time except during programmes intended specifically for children under the age of 13.
The Complaints Board said the advertisement depicted a potentially dangerous situation and encouraged a disregard for safety, agreeing the ad implied the actor was about to put a bread knife down a toaster, which could result in an electric shock.
While the board acknowledged the accompanying tagline and the rating of the advertisement, "this did not save the advertisement from depicting a potentially dangerous ‘everyday’ situation".
It ruled the ad was in breach of both Rule 12 of the Code of Ethics (advertisements should not, unless justifiable on educational or social grounds, contain any visual presentation or any description of dangerous or illegal practices or situations which encourage a disregard for safety) and Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics (all advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society).
Vodafone took the ad off-air and has no plans to re-run it in future, but did not accept that it breached the code.
“Vodafone believes that it is well known that to put a knife in a toaster may result in electric shock. The advertisement was aimed at adults, who would understand this, and the reference to getting more than you bargained for.
"This was not meant to, nor does Vodafone believe it does, show a situation in a way which encourages a disregard for safety. This advertisement was intended as a tongue in cheek reference to a well-known situation.”
In its submission, .99 said: "The advertisement was written to dramatise a situation where you may get more than you bargained for before offering the Vodafone Top Up Bonus as a better alternative.
"We believe that it is common knowledge that to put a knife in a toaster may result in electric shock.
"The advertisement was aimed at adults, the intention was not to encourage a disregard for safety and we were careful to move away from the scene before any dangerous action was made."