Save The Children

13th May 2014

The Clear View – Save the Children


Every Wednesday the ASA publish their adjudications on the complaints they have investigated. In fact far more ads are complained about than investigated, with the ASA reviewing each complaint to determine whether there may have been a breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code).


Of the weekly adjudications, a small number will relate to TV ads that have been cleared by us. Last week the ASA announced a decision on an ad by the Save the Children Fund. The ad, which featured an African woman giving birth and received over 600 complaints, largely for it’s shocking nature, wanted to convey the statistic that one million babies die on their first day. Despite the large number of complaints, the ASA decided not to uphold those complaints.


Charity ads are the subject of regular debate at Clearcast, because by their nature they will often be upsetting and potentially offensive. But of course we have to balance this with the fact that they’re made for a good cause and need to have an impact if they’re to generate a response from viewers.


The ad made by Adam & Eve/DDB was always going to be controversial as it went further than has previously been seen on television, but we felt that despite the subject matter it was made tastefully and avoided showing the more graphic aspects of childbirth.


We work hard to try and ensure we make the right clearance decisions and once they are made we defend them against complaints. It’s always satisfying when we successfully defend our decisions and an ad stays on air, and particularly so when we have defended an ad that has generated so many complaints. The ASA aren’t influenced by the number of complaints and it’s reassuring that they agreed with our rationale for approving the ad.


The result is that a powerful and effective ad stays on the air with the post-21:00 timing restriction we sensibly gave it. This decision sets a useful precedent for other charities and their agencies to gauge what kind of envelope-pushing content would be acceptable to the regulator.


Seb Lynch, Copy Development Manager at Clearcast


Read the full Save the Children adjudication on the ASA website.