Too Political or too Real?

In a world of political uproar and scaremongering, you would of thought that the UK public had become desensitised to campaigns that include any political overtones. However, there is a strict and scrupulous organisation amongst us that is the metaphorical filter between advertisement release and what actually reaches our television screens.

The Advertising Standards Authority, or the ASA, have been up and running since 1955, since the beginning of TV advertisement broadcasting – Yes, I thought adverts were around before that time too… Time to dig out the history books.

The ASA have stated that more than 97% of advertisement nowadays comply with their rules and regulations. They introduced ‘self-regulation‘ whereby advertisement creators are responsible for their own work and must make sure that they follow the guidelines (The UK are way too trusting), however, if they do not comply then the ASA has the right to immediately ban the advertisement and remove it from public viewing without the need of legal aid and could impose a sanction.

Now, with the advancement of the digital world, the ASA have had to adjust to online forms of advertisement, such as social media advertising, video on demand and podcasts that feature advertisements.

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, also known as the BCAP Code, covers an extremely in-depth variety of topics, including:

  • Harm & Offence: For example, you cannot cause harm to U18s, you cannot discriminate against a minority group and you cannot cause cultural offence.
  • Political Advertising: For example, you cannot influence political outcomes or try to change public opinion.
  • Faith & Religion: For example, you cannot try to influence people to join a religion and you cannot appeal for funds unless you are a charitable organisation.

Basically, you cannot do much at all. The UK just cannot take anymore offence. Linda cannot bare the thought of seeing same-sex relationships or immigrants on national TV – She has the ASA on speed dial.

Below is an example of a banned advertisement that ‘did not’ comply with the political advertising code:

1. Iceland’s 2018 Christmas Advert

Video Source

Who cut that damn onion in here…

Anyway, the Christmas advert for Iceland in 2018 featured ‘Rang-Tan’, the cutest orange fluff-ball you have ever seen, seeking a new home due to the deforestation of the rain forests for the Palm Oil products.

The advert was seen as “too political” – I mean, come on, look at all of the political scaremongering that is used DAILY in the news and online. There are far more political worries in this country than an Iceland advert.

Iceland is a committed environmental campaigner and has used this advert to state that they would be banning Palm Oil from all of their products by the end of 2018 in hope that they could raise awareness of the damage that is being done and the lives that are being lost.

Instead, Iceland launched their campaign on social media and it absolutely smashed it. With over 17 million views on their Facebook page alone, the public have opened their eyes to environmental issues and opened a petition to allow the advertisement to be shown on television and has gained over 1,000,000 signatures.

You can sign the petition, here.

I, for one, will be keeping an eye out for Palm Oil in products and I have already signed the petition. I cannot look at little Rang-Tan without feeling guilty.


– Liam

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