Imperial Tobacco has had its knuckles rapped over two outdoor ads for cigarette paper brand Rizla after the ad watchdog ruled they were likely to appeal to kids and even suggested that smoking was safe.
The posters, devised by Proximity Germany, were part of a campaign promoting Rizla’s new packaging under the strapline: “Fold. Tuck. Protect.”
One showed two people dressed as a security safe standing in front of a wall with the word “Safe” sprayed on it. The other showed two people with cardboard boxes over their heads with drawn-on facial expressions, standing in front of a wall which had the word “Protect” graffitied on it.
The Advertising Standards Authority received four complaints that the posters suggested that smoking was safe and were likely to appeal to and encouraged those under the age of 18 to start smoking.
In its response to the ASA enquiries, Imperial Tobacco denied the illustrations would appeal to children. The use of graffiti was intended to target adult consumer groups who were urban, creative and expressive, it claimed, saying that the word “safe” was intended to emphasise that Rizla papers were more likely to be kept physically safe inside the new packaging.
However, the ASA ruled that “many people would interpret the use of the word ‘safe’ in this context to suggest that smoking with Rizla rolling papers was safe, rather than solely as a reference to the packaging of the new product”.
In addition, the watchdog found that both posters breached the code by being likely to appeal to people under 18, due to the use of graffiti, playful props and use of “safe”, which is a slang term associated with youth culture.
The ASA ruled that the two posters must not appear again in their current form.
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