Ofcom rules against COI gremlin ads

Two of St Luke's TV ads for COI Communications' Adult Basic Skills, one of which features an exploding gremlin, have been banned from transmission when large numbers of children might be watching.

This follows an investigation by Ofcom after the regulator received more than 90 complaints from viewers who found the ad objectionable or frightening for their children.

The two ads use the taunting gremlins that have been a feature of previous Adult Basic Skills campaigns. However, in both spots the gremlins meet a sticky end when faced with newly acquired educational certificates - one explodes, shooting green slime over the room, while the other is squashed under a man's foot.

The BACC had already restricted the ad from children's programming, but Ofcom still received complaints from the parents of 66 children between the ages of 18 months and 11 years who said the ads were frightening.

Ofcom ruled that although the gremlins were part of an existing strategy, they were clearly frightening to young children who found them realistic and graphic and consequently imposed a post- 7.30pm restriction on the ads.

Mother's spot for Boots featuring Jonny Wilkinson also came under Ofcom scrutiny. The ad promoted free cholesterol tests at Boots stores.

However, viewers complained that when they went to Boots they were told the test was only available to people over 45. Boots claimed it had to withdraw the offer of tests for all after it received higher-than-expected demand.

Ofcom ruled that the ad was misleading but credited Boots and the BACC for trying to resolve the problem once it became apparent that demand was too high.

- Opinion, p27.