The burger chain Grill’d has been found to have breached ad standards for violence and sexuality in a commercial where a cartoon character flashes children.
The Grill’d VS Plastic Toys clip has a version of McDonald’s Ronald McDonald opening his coat to two children in a dark alleyway.
Ad Standards: “The ad showed a cartoon clown menacingly opening his coat in front of a group of children in an alleyway. The clown was also shown producing a knife from the toe of his shoe and attempting to slice a cartoon burger in half with it.
“The Community Panel determined that the ad showed violence that was not justifiable in the context of the product being advertised, and failed to treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience.”
Complaints were also raised under the Food and Beverages Code, Advertising to Children Code, and the Environmental Claims Code but no breaches were found.
“This ad portrayed flashing and also encourages children to possess and use knives and violence against each other. Totally inappropriate because it was aired at a time that children would be viewing."
“The advertisement is clearly aimed at children (note the "collectable" toys). It depicts violence with a deadly weapon (note the sharp knife followed by a dramatic fighting scene). It is programmed at a time when small children watch TV, often without parental guidance.”
The advertiser argued the violence was a mild animated form:
“The cartoon nature of the violence is consistent with animated superhero programs and is justifiable in the context of the product being advertised in this fashion.
"We note that the superhero persona of the burger is consistent with the messaging of the advertisement, being a 'righteous' figure who combats against perceived 'evils' in the industry (in this case, offering plastic toys to children as an enticement to purchase fast food products).
"We note some of the complaints received express concern at how menacing or frightening the clown looks, however we submit that the clown’s appearance as slightly disheveled and mischievous looking is justified in the context of the scene and his appearance overall is extremely mild.”
However, Grill’d said it would take steps to modify the advertisement to take into account the panel’s concerns.
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