Aldi has been vindicated by the advertising watchdog after complaints against a TV ad that depicted a woman doing stunts on a trolley were dismissed.
The advertisement, which was released in March, shows a woman in an Aldi car park pushing a trolley, before using said trolley in a series of increasingly ridiculous stunts and dance moves while music plays in the background.
The woman then returns the trolley to the docking bays, retrieving her $2 coin while a voiceover says: “Australia’s most satisfied customers three years in a row, even though you need a coin for your trolley”.
A significant number of complaints were sent to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) in relation to the ad, all claiming it contravened section 2.6 of the advertising industry code of ethics, which relates to showing unsafe behaviour.
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“I find the ad has a woman doing dangerous stunts on a trolley. As a mother of an 11 year old son I find this incredibly irresponsible. I have sat with my son and explained the very dangerous content in this ad. My concern is for the safety of young people attempting these stunts,” said one complainant.
“This is an extremely dangerous practise and therefore should be discouraged in every way. Customers are warned not to put young children in shopping trolleys and this advertisement only makes a mockery of this request,” said another.
Hannah van Otterloo, marketing and advertising expert at InsideOut PR, tells SmartCompany that criticising the ad for inciting copycat behaviour was found to be unreasonable.
“Copycat behaviour can occur from anything, and it is up to the parents, guardians and caretakers to ensure that children know the difference between safe and unsafe behaviour,” van Otterloo says.
“Kids were climbing on trolleys long before this ad.”
The number of complaints about the ad are likely due to the expectations consumers have of larger organisations, says van Otterloo, who believes they are “easier targets” for complaints.
“Consumers expect more from big organisations as the consumer assumes there should be multiple employees and levels doing the final checks on content, visuals and creative input,” she says.
“Therefore there can be a sense of betrayal, confusion, and anger within the target audience and stakeholders. The backfire from this ad seems slightly unfair seeing as the ad obviously stems from a fantasy.”
“No realistic risk” of copycats
In a response to the advertising standards board, Aldi defended the ad and dismissed claims it would entice copycat behaviour, saying it believed there would be “no realistic risk of this occurring”.
Noting the scenes shown in the ad were “clearly fantasy”, Aldi outlined the actions performed by the woman in the advertisement would not be possible without the use of props or “professional stunt experts”.
“The woman is seen gliding through the carpark while lying across the handle of the trolley. She is also seen gliding while crouched on the back of the trolley with one arm outstretched,” the company wrote.
“The fact that the stunts could not physically be performed by a child (or any other person) in an everyday situation emphasises that there is no real prospect of viewers of the advertisement being encouraged to copy the stunts.”
The ad also includes a prominent disclaimer during the woman’s most precarious stunts, clearly stating they were performed in a “safe and controlled” environment, and discouraged viewers from attempting them.
In its decision, the watchdog dismissed viewers’ complaints and sided with the retailer, despite some members of the board agreeing the advertisement “did depict behaviour that may be copied by young children and is unsafe”.
However, the majority of the board did not view the ad in this light, and decided “the exaggerated nature of the advertisement and the overall look and tone was clearly one of fantasy and was not considered to be realistic in any way”.
“The Board noted that the woman was not shown to be thrilled or excited by her own actions but rather in a trance-like state which lessened the impact of the stunts she was performing,” the ASB stated.
“The Board acknowledged the safety concerns about riding on trolleys but considered in this instance, the advertisement was highly stylised and was not encouraging or condoning this behaviour and did not depict material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety and did not breach Section 2.6 of the Code.”
SmartCompany contacted Aldi but the company had no further comment on the case.
The ad can be viewed below.