Undeniably stupid, but worth banning? That was the tough call facing Britain's ad watchdog as it dealt with 176 complaints over the spot below, for soft drink Irn-Bru. The plot, such as it is, involves a mom proudly showing off her push-up bra to her son's friends—much to the acute embarrassment of the son, and the slack-jawed awe of the friends. The soft drink is positioned, also stupidly, as an antidote to the embarrassment. Each time the kid takes a swig, he becomes blissfully mellow again despite his dire circumstances.
The Ad Standard Authority's ruling? It cleared the spot on all grounds, saying the interaction between the mom and the friends did not constitute irresponsible behavior. "We considered that the action relied on the mum being confident and attractive, but not consciously or overtly behaving in a sexualized or flirtatious way," the ASA said. "We also considered that the focus of the ads was the son's embarrassment at the effect his mum's appearance was having on his friends. Therefore, and particularly in the context of ads intended to portray a surreal and lighthearted comedic approach, we did not consider that the action or depiction of the female protagonist was sexist or demeaning and concluded that the ads were not in breach of the code."
For its part, Irn-Bru maker AG Barr said it simply wanted the ad, created by The Leith Agency in Edinburgh, to "stay true to the traditionally cheeky and irreverent sense of humor" of its previous ads.