Online retailer ordered to remove baby pillow ad that goes against community standards

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Newborn in baby sling

An online retailer has been forced to take down advertising from social media after the Advertising Standards Board ruled its ad for a baby pillow community went against community health standards.

FavWorld is a US based online gift retailer, which is advertising an elephant plush toy baby pillow on its website and Facebook page.

The advertisements show a baby fast asleep on the pillow, and were accompanied by a tagline asking, “Is your baby crying all night long?”

“Make the little tears stop with our best seller elephant pillow which can be yours at 70% off + free shipping…but only for this week!! Hurry, Grab yours and give your baby a great sleep!” the advertisement read.

Read more: The 10 most complained about ads in 2016

One customer complained to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB), claiming the company was advertising a product that could contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) risk.

“I’ve seen this advert 5 times and just find it irresponsible to advertise something that is a known SIDS risk. Babies have died. They should not market this stuffed toy for babies to sleep on it is dangerous!!” the complainant said.

FavWorld did not respond to the complainant, and the ASB upheld it, citing safe sleeping guidelines for infants outlined by Red Nose Australia.

“The Board noted the wording of the advertisement, in particular, the phrase “all night long” and considered that this was suggesting the toy was safe to be placed in a cot with a baby at night,” the ASB said in a release.

“The Board considered that the image and the text together were highly suggestive of this being a safe toy to leave a baby alone with when sleeping.”

Red Nose Australia’s safe sleeping guidelines recommend infants be kept on their back with head and face uncovered, and stay in a “safe sleeping environment”. This includes no soft surfaces, bulky bedding, pillows, cot bumpers, lambs wool, soft toys, or doonas.

The ASB upheld the complaint, deciding the advertisement is in contrast to prevailing community health and safety standards. The board ordered FavWorld to take down or modify the advertisement.

While the ad can no longer be found on the retailer’s Facebook page, the product is still available on the online store, and the company frequently posts images of babies using the pillow on social media.

Take extra caution

Advertising expert at Ampersand Legal Narissa Corrigan told SmartCompany businesses should “take extra caution” when advertising products involving children or infants.

“Generally when there’s products involving kids businesses should take an extra level of care,” Corrigan says.

“Make sure any images don’t undermine what the words say, or tell a story in a way it shouldn’t be told.”

In this case, Corrigan acknowledges the company’s attempt at marketing to mothers, but warns the ad contravenes health standards.

“Marketing a product to try an get babies sleeping better is all well and good, as long as it’s correct,” she says.

“If they’ve gone and advertised the product in a way contrary to the leading voice in safe baby sleeping practices, they’re going to be pulled up by the ASB.”

Corrigan believes the situation to be “cut and dry”, likening it to a car advertisement where no one is wearing a seatbelt.

“SIDS recommendations are very prominent, advertisers are told about them so they shouldn’t be advertising products that directly go against them,” she says.

SmartCompany contacted FavWorld but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Dominic Powell is a part-time journalist at SmartCompany, and a full-time tech geek. When he’s not writing about Pokemon GO, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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