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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Vodafone TV ad about boy meeting mum's new partner received numerous complaints

The ASAI received 15 complaints about the TV advert because it “lacked information on the whereabouts of the boy’s biological dad”.

Vodafone Ireland's TV advert 'Family Firsts'.
Vodafone Ireland's TV advert 'Family Firsts'.

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has not upheld 15 complaints it received about an advertisement that “lacks information on the whereabouts of the boy’s biological dad”.

The Vodafone TV ad features a young boy meeting his mum’s new partner and shows the relationship they develop over time.

The final scene of the advert shows the new partner helping the young boy to do his homework and afterwards, the young boy says “Thanks Dad”.

Source: Vodafone Ireland/YouTube

The common theme of the 15 complaints received by the ASAI was based around the lack of information on the whereabouts of the boy’s biological dad and why it was necessary for him to call his mum’s new partner ‘Dad’.

Other complaints received included:

“The advertisement has the potential to incite domestic violence when a biological dad sees his son calling another man ‘Dad’.”

“The advertisement is offensive and insensitive to fathers who do not have access to their children or to fathers who are experiencing the grief and pain of being separated from them.”

“The advertisement is offensive to children who may have had negative experiences with their mum’s new partner.”

Never intended to offend 

Vodafone says that it had imagined that the main boy character may not have had his biological dad in his life.

The advertiser says that it never intended to offend with the storyline but rather “to highlight that every family structure had its own unique make up and circumstances”.

In a response to the ASAI Vodafone said:

“The family structure featured was just one example and was not reflective of all families across Ireland.

“The premise behind the advertisement was to demonstrate how Vodafone’s network could help all of the varied family types in society.”

When the ASAI complaints committee was considering all of the complaints they noted that there had been no reference made to the child’s biological dad in the advertising.

“While accepting that not mentioning the boy’s biological dad could give rise to speculation, the Committee considered that it was not always possible to accommodate every aspect of a storyline in the airtime provided to a marketing communication,” the committee said.

The ASAI found that no further action was required in this case but suggested that advertisers “consider extending their market research and include relevant and broad stakeholder groups when developing such advertising”.

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Adam Daly

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