Music streaming service Spotify has escaped censure from the ad watchdog over two ads – aired at a time when kids could have been watching – despite scores of complaints that they contained explicit references to masturbation and sex on a kitchen table.
The first ad showed a young lad singing along to a song at the family dinner table before his mother said: “What he doesn’t know is that he was made to this song. In this room. On this table.”
The second showed a teenage girl standing outside a closed bedroom door, saying: “Yep. Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’. I think we all know what’s going on in there.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) 64 complaints about the first ad, mostly from people who saw it during Britain’s Got Talent and Take Me Out.
Another 18 complainants believed the second ad was offensive and unsuitable to be broadcast to children because it implied the person in the bedroom was performing a sex act.
There were two complaints about the first ad screened in the cinema before the film Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, claiming that it was unsuitable to be shown to an audience likely to include children.
However, in response to the ASA inquiry, Spotify said each ad used “mild and subtle sexual innuendo in a discreet and tongue-in-cheek manner”, and were unlikely to be noticed or understood by children.
ITV said the audience indices for Britain’s Got Talent and Take Me Out showed that the proportion of child viewers for both programmes was significantly below the threshold at which they would be considered to be appealing particularly to children.
Spotify said the cinema ad might at worst cause mild awkwardness or embarrassment for children or their parents, but it was not likely to result in the physical, mental or moral harm of any children viewing it.
Clearing the ad, the ASA acknowledged that both ads contained implied sexual references, but added: “We considered, however, that the references were not explicit and were unlikely to be understood by young children.”
It noted that Clearcast had imposed a scheduling restriction to prevent the ads being broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children, adding: “We therefore concluded that the ads were not offensive or unsuitable to be broadcast in breaks in those programmes at those times.”
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