a. A TV ad featured a mother cleaning the kitchen as her son and two friends walked in. They greeted each other and the son looked shocked. The mum looked at her cleavage and said New push up bra. Amazing eh? The son's friends stared at
her breasts as her son looked on with a shocked expression. The son then took a loud sip of IRN-BRU, smiled and said, Looking good mum . His friends continued to watch her as she leaned forward to clean the table. The son appeared
disconcerted, then took another sip and smiled at his mum. The mother then embraced her son against her chest. He looked uncomfortable, then drank more IRN-BRU and then smiled. The mother asked Group hug? and the friends jumped from their
chairs enthusiastically, pushing each other. The final scene showed the drink in front of two balloons with text stating IRN-BRU and GETS YOU THROUGH.
b. The same ad appeared on the IRN-BRU YouTube channel, the AOL website before a news bulletin and on a Video on Demand (VOD) service (STV).
176 complaints were received. Most complaints related to ad (a) and four related to ad (b).
Most complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive and irresponsible, because they considered that the scenario between the mother and young men was sexual and inappropriate.
Some complainants challenged whether the ads were sexist and demeaning to women.
Some viewers challenged whether ad (a) was inappropriately scheduled at a time when children could have been viewing.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
Investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 1.2 & 1.3 (Responsible advertising), 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence).
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the characters in the ads were all adults who were over the age of consent. We considered that the action in the ads did not rely on the mum actively or overtly flirting with her son's friends in a manner designed to actively
sexually attract them or form a sexual relationship with them, but was focused on the son's embarrassment that his friends were showing an attraction to his mother, whilst she behaved as if she was unaware of the effect her manner of dress and
actions were having on those around her. Although we acknowledged that some behaviour, such as the mum's offer of a group hug , might suggest that she was conscious of the effect her manner of dress was having on the group, we considered
that the purpose of her actions was to form the basis of the humour in the ads, which was driven by the surreal notion that the son's embarrassment could be countered by drinking IRN-BRU. We therefore considered that most viewers would interpret
the situation as surreal and using tongue in cheek humour, rather than as depicting realistic and sexually inappropriate behaviour on the part of the mum.
Although we noted that some complainants had interpreted the action in the ads as portraying an inappropriate relationship between the mum and the son's friends, we did not consider that their interaction was a portrayal of irresponsible
behaviour. Therefore, although we acknowledged that some viewers had found the ads' humour distasteful, we did not consider that the ads portrayed irresponsible behaviour, nor that they were likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We
therefore concluded that the ads were not in breach of the Code.
2. Not upheld
We noted that the ads featured a woman with large breasts who was wearing a low cut top and push-up bra and involved her son's friends displaying an attraction to her appearance. We also noted that the basis of the humour and action drew
particular attention to her appearance and her breasts. However, we considered that the action relied on the mum being confident and attractive, but not consciously or overtly behaving in a sexualised or flirtatious way. We also considered that
the focus of the ads was the son's embarrassment at the effect his mum's appearance was having on his friends. The humour was based on the surreal notion of using IRN-BRU to counter that embarrassment. Therefore, and particularly in the context
of ads intended to portray a surreal and light-hearted comedic approach, we did not consider that the action or depiction of the female protagonist was sexist or demeaning and concluded that the ads were not in breach of the Code.
3. Not upheld
We noted that ad (a) was subject to an ex kids restriction which prevented the ads from being broadcast in or around programmes directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. Although we considered that younger children would be
unlikely to understand the basis of the humour and innuendo used in the ad, we did not consider that the content was overtly sexualised or was inappropriate to be seen by children, particularly when watching with adults. We therefore concluded
that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
AG Barr have issued an apology after an Irn Bru advert sparked a few complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad aired on STV after 7pm on Friday. The ASA confirmed they had received 9 complaints with the majority deeming the advert to be offensive and in poor taste.
The 'Don't be a cunt' campaign depicts a man meeting his girlfriends family for the first time and when asked by her father about when he is going to marry his daughter he replies he can't right now and asked to leave but is told by his
girlfriend that they can't to which he replies Don't be a can't
An AG Barr spokeswoman said:
Our advertising always plays up Irn-Bru's cheeky sense of humour and our latest campaign is no different. It's never our intention to offend so we're sorry if our new advert hit the wrong note with a few people. But we hope most fans will enjoy
this spin on positive thinking in the spirit it is intended.
Update: ASA are usually can'ts but this time they are a can
A.G. Barr's latest Irn-Bru advert has been deemed not offensive by the advert censors at ASA.
ASA said, after receiving 37 complaints, it had decided not to launch a formal investigation against the campaign. An ASA spokeswoman added:
While we acknowledge there was some similarity between 'can't' and a swear word, as suggested by complainants, and that some viewers might find the ad offensive for that reason, we considered the spoken use of the word 'can't' had sufficient
clarity. Therefore, it was clearly distinguishable from the swear word.
We also considered the audience was likely to interpret the ad as an attempt at humour by linking being a 'can't' with negativity while associating 'can' with positivity and their product.