The ASA (1) says the video ad was seen during an episode of “Sweetness & Lightning” (2) on the Crunchyroll (3) anime app. The ad featured people about to play a video game with an electronic dance music soundtrack. Crunchyroll is said to host, “a number of series [that] are unsuitable for children.”
The ASA state the ad’s conversation went as follows: “One man said, ‘You in?’ and the other characters were shown putting nicotine pouches in their mouths and saying, ‘Yeah’ and ‘I’m in’ before they started playing. The players were shown engaging with and reacting to the game and saying, ‘Whoa’, ‘Oh yeah’, ‘Come on’, ‘Perfect’, etc.”
Nordic Spirit is a Gallaher Ltd brand, a UK subdivision of Japan Tobacco International (JTI). Gallaher told the ASA that its advertisement was not targeting minors and they had instructed their agency to ensure only over-18s saw it.
Its agency confirmed that, “Crunchyroll had been identified as being appropriate for age-restricted advertising using a number of metrics. 85% of Crunchyroll’s audience was aged 18 or over, and the terms of service required users to confirm they were aged at least 16. To subscribe to a premium account, users needed to provide credit card or PayPal details.”
The ASA was told “Sweetness & Lightning” was aimed at males aged 18 to 45 years. It explored adult themes, such as bereavement and single parenthood, which were unlikely to have undue appeal to children.
In relation to the irresponsible claim, JTI responded to say: “The ad was designed to emphasise the convenience of Nordic Spirit for existing adult nicotine users, and therefore to offer an alternative to other nicotine-containing products such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Such products needed to be handled by the user and might require them to take a break from what they were doing (for example, to use them or in order to go outside to smoke). Nordic Spirit was hands-free and enabled adult users to continue their activity, such as playing a video game, uninterrupted.”
Vaping gamers may recognise the problem of trying to use their e-cigs during group activity play.
The ASA found there was no problem with the ad placement: “The ASA understood that Nordic Spirit nicotine pouches did not contain tobacco and were not subject to the statutory restriction on advertising of tobacco products. They could only legally be sold to people over 18 years of age and we therefore considered that marketers should be able to demonstrate that they had taken reasonable steps to ensure that ads were directed at an audience aged 18 and over so as to minimise under-18s’ exposure to them.”
The second complaint was upheld as, “it implied that [the pouches] had a mood-altering and stimulant effect which would enhance enjoyment and gameplay. In the context of an ad for a product that contained nicotine, we considered that was irresponsible and breached the Code.”
- The Advertising Standards Authority - https://www.asa.org.uk/
- Sweetness & Lightning - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetness_and_Lightning
- Crunchyroll - https://crunchyroll.en.softonic.com/