The Advertising Standards Authority has banned Dairylea's "Set them free with Dairylea" video-on-demand ad by VCCP.
The spot features two girls hanging upside down from a low crossbar on a goal having a conversation about where your food goes when you hang upside down. One of the girls opens a Dairylea Cheese Triangle and eats it while still hanging upside down.
14 people complained to the ASA, challenging that the ad condoned or encouraged unsafe behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.
In response to the complaints, Mondelez UK said the intention of the ad was to show parents allowing their children to have more freedom, pointing out that the children, who were six and eight years of age, were being supervised by two parents in the background. In addition, although the children were hanging upside down, they were nearly touching the floor and therefore were at a safe distance so as to not fall and hurt themselves.
Further to this, Mondelez provided research on the human body's ability to move food into the stomach regardless of gravity. The company stated that, based on its research, and because Dairylea was a soft food, it considered there was a very low risk of choking when eating upside down.
Information was provided to the watchdog about the approach to placing ads for Dairylea in different media, and it was highlighted that the VOD ad had been given an "ex-kids" scheduling restriction. That meant that it was scheduled away from programming commissioned for, principally directed at, or likely to appeal to children under 16 years of age.
Mondelez said it was no longer running the ad and would remove references to eating upside down if they used the ad in future.
Clearcast, the non-governmental organisation that pre-approves most British television advertising, endorsed Mondelez's comments and also highlighted that they had given the ad an "ex-kids" scheduling restriction.
The ASA concluded that a scheduling restriction was not sufficient to reduce the risk of harm and determined that the ad must not appear again in the form complained of. It also told Mondelez to ensure its advertising did not condone or encourage unsafe practices.
A Mondelez spokesperson, said: "We recognise and will abide by the ASA’s decision but we are disappointed by the ruling.
“We carefully consulted with Clearcast to pre-approve the content of this video-on-demand ad prior to airing: it was aimed at adults (parents) rather than young children – and was deliberately scheduled away from programming likely to appeal to children under 16. As such, we believe it was unlikely to encourage 'copycat' behaviour by young children.
“We remain committed to responsible advertising and work with a range of partners to make sure our marketing meets and complies with all relevant UK regulations.”