The Advertising Standards Authority is facing ridicule after outlawing the Heinz Can Song TV ad – in which actors tap out a song on empty tins of beans with their hands – over health and safety fears, amid accusations that its decision is a joke.
The ad, created by BBH London, featured children, teenagers and adults using empty or full tins of baked beans to tap out the rhythm of the song. Towards the end of the ad, on-screen text stated “Learn the #CanSong”.
However, nine TV viewers felt so strongly about the potential dangers of the ad that they complained to the ASA. Three challenged whether the ad encouraged unsafe practice and six believed it featured behaviour that could be dangerous for children to copy.
In response, Heinz Foods UK said the cans used in the ad were tapped only on its sealed top, its bottom or sides. Additional precautionary measures, the company said, were included on social media videos featuring the Can Song such as applying tape to the open end of the can.
Heinz added that the children shown tapping cans in the ad were always shown in the presence of an adult and none of the ad’s scenes were targeted at children in particular.
However, the ASA said: “We considered the ad was likely to have appeal to a wide age range, including children, who wanted to learn the Can Song and would therefore seek to recreate it. [But] we considered there was a health and safety risk in doing so, particularly if a child was to attempt to play the song with an empty tin without adult supervision.”
The ad must not be shown again in its current form, the ASA ruled.
But parents’ groups have blasted the ban. ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard told The Mirror: “Since when did a simple pleasure like tapping out a tune on a tin can become something for health and safety to shelter us all from?
“There are lots of real dangers facing children, from bullying to poverty, but this ad simply isn’t one of them. Everything has some element of risk. But children need to be free to explore the world and we shouldn’t try to over-regulate and stifle all the fun and creativity from it.”
Another mum, who declined to be named, told DecisionMarketing: “What a joke. The ASA clearly has a job to do but it should be going after fraudulent and deceitful ads, not this sort of thing. Whatever happened to kids having fun?”
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