The ASA upheld seven complaints relating to two different issues, both relating to possible child emulation of a stunt in a video advert (still pictured, advert below) broadcast via online gaming applications, a video sharing and a social media website.
This features a teenager sliding down an escalator on a snowboard, before grabbing a rope thrown to him by another teenager from the back of a moving underground train.
He then jumps from the platform and ‘surfs’ along the tracks on the snowboard, before making celebratory gestures and falling headfirst to the ground.
Cut to white noise…
The advert then cut to white noise, with text stating ‘Don’t Dew This at Home’, before showing a final scene with a group of cheering men – one of whom had his arm in a cast – spraying themselves with the drink.
Four people contacted the ASA complaining that the advert was harmful because it featured a young adult engaging in dangerous behavior that could encourage emulation.
Three further complainants said the advert was irresponsible, since it appeared in media likely to be seen by, or have particular appeal to children.
The ASA upheld both complaints and ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.
A PepsiCo UK spokesman told BeverageDaily.com this morning: “The Mountain Dew snowboarding advert was created to convey the brand’s fun, tongue-in-cheek nature.
“We do not market our products to children and this advert was designed for Mountain Dew fans over the age of 16. The advert features adult professional stuntmen and makes it clear that viewers should not attempt to copy the activities shown,” he added.
"It was never our intention to cause offence and we apologise if we have done so. We are no longer using this advert.”
‘Dangerous and reckless stunt’ – ASA
But while the ASA acknowledged PepsiCo International's defense that the underground (metro) scenes did not resemble any UK system, it said the scene was a realistic one, while the onscreen text caution was a play on the Mountain Dew name rather than a direct caution to discourage viewer emulation.
“Because of the realistic nature of the advert, its familiarity, the dangerous and reckless nature of the stunt and the celebratory actors, one of whom clearly sustained an injury, we concluded that the advert could encourage emulation of an unsafe practice and result in harm," the ASA said.
PepsiCo International also said that the advert followed a template it had used to advertise Mountain Dew globally for years, and that it had drawn no consumer complaints.
Comments posted on the video sharing site clearly showed that viewers recognized the scene was fake, PepsiCo said, adding that the advert was targeted at young adults who would recognise this.
The advert was initially targeted at 16-24 year-olds, PepsiCo said, adding that - prior to the ASA censure - it had raised the minimum target age to 18 following the complaints, and had stopped children’s apps from showing the advert.