The ad from Radcliffe’s Must Have Ltd attracted 86 complaints from people – many of them thought it was too racy to be seen by children.
It featured a woman in a black dress, who spoke to the camera and said, “You know that feeling you get, when something’s great? You can touch it, hold it, even see it. Well, now you can taste it.” As she spoke she ran her hand over her thigh. The voice-over stated, “Choose the great taste of VIP e-cigarettes and e-liquids. Quality assured since 2009, with a variety of flavours and nicotine strengths from 0 to 24 mg. VIP.”
The Advertising Standards Agency said most viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive because they believed it was overtly sexual and irresponsibly sexualised e-cigarette use.
But while the ASA felt ‘the sexual references were unlikely to be regarded as explicit or overtly sexual’, it did rule the ad unsuitable for teatime viewing.
“We noted that Clearcast had applied an ‘ex-kids’ restriction which meant the ad could not be shown in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. We considered that the scheduling restriction applied would likely restrict younger children from seeing the ad. However, we were concerned that the degree of sexuality in the ad, while not overt, was also unsuitable for older children. We therefore concluded that, to minimise the risk of children seeing it, the ad should have been given a 9 pm timing restriction.”
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form before 9 pm. You can read the full ruling here.