ITC rebukes Publicis over 'mermaid' spot for Capital One card

Publicis has been rebuked by the Independent Television Commission for its "mermaids" spot for Capital One.

The ad contains an underwater scene in which the mermaids show off the purchases they've made with a stolen Capital One credit card. One switches on a hair dryer, which blows out a stream of bubbles from the nozzle.

Thirty-one viewers contacted the ITC to complain that the ad might encourage children to attempt to use their hairdryers in a similar way. Three viewers reported that their children, aged between six and seven, had remarked on the mermaid drying her hair under water and had wanted to copy her actions.

The BACC originally approved the ad on the grounds that the scene was clearly fantasy rather than reality. But the ITC ruled that given the appeal of blowing bubbles to children, the easy access to hairdryers and water in most homes and the potentially fatal consequences of this, the ad should be immediately restricted to a post-9pm slot.

Following its investigation the ITC has ruled that this restriction should remain in place permanently.

Separately, Trustar Global Media, the owner of Shop America and You TV, was fined a total of £100,000 for continued breaches of the Advertising Code. The channels showed ads - including one claiming the product featured could reverse cancer - that were misleading and not substantiated by independent medical advice.