ASA gives Marmite all clear over controversial 'animal cruelty' ad


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The Independent Online

The advertising watchdog has decided not to investigate Marmite's controversial “animal cruelty” ad after receiving 504 complaints from the public.

The documentary-style spoof featuring a rescue crew saving abandoned jars of Marmite first screened on August 5 and later appeared online.

It quickly drew hundreds of complaints that it trivialised the work of child and animal welfare agencies.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said its council had decided against launching an investigation, saying that while some viewers might find the ad distasteful, most would recognise that it was a spoof.

The ASA said: "After carefully considering the complaints, the ASA council has decided there are no grounds for further action and we will not be launching an investigation.

"While some viewers might find the theme and style of the ads distasteful most would recognise the ads were a spoof. They were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or to be irresponsible and were unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers. They were light-hearted in tone and did not trivialise issues of abuse or denigrate the work of child and animal protection services."

The ASA said the general nature of the complaints were that the ad was irresponsible and offensive because it trivialised the abuse of children and animals as well as the work of child and animal protection services.

Others complained that the ad was unsuitable to be seen by children and might cause distress to people who had been victims of abuse.

The complaints led to Marmite owner Unilever donating £18,000 to the RSPCA.