LONDON - Kellogg's has dropped the 'now take off your trousers' line from its Nutrigrain television ad campaign, after 42 complaints called it offensive and claimed it suggested sexual abuse.
The television ad, created by Leo Burnett, featured a young man sitting on the edge of an examination table while an older man in a white doctor's coat was writing at a desk.
The young man said: "I get these weird feelings around eleven and four". The older man then examined him and said: "Ah, CPs, cakey-pangs. You need oveny-bakey-cakeyness. I suggest you eat Nutrigrain."
He pulls out a Nutrigrain bar from his pocket and hands it to the younger man and then says: "Now take off your trousers."
The ad ends with the older man revealing that he is in fact a baker not a doctor.
The advertising watchdog received 42 complaints from people who challenged whether the ad was offensive because it was suggestive of the sexual abuse of younger people by authority figures. Some of the complainants also challenged whether the ad was suitable to be broadcast at times when it could be seen by children.
Despite the complaints, the ad escaped a rap from the advertising watchdog.
Kellogg's said that due to the serious nature of the complaints it would be taking the ad off air and replace it with a version that did not contain the line "now take off your trousers".
It also said that the ad was intended to be light-hearted and inoffensive and that the patient in the ad was specifically chosen to be of adult age.
Kellogg's explained that the target audience for the ad was 25- to 44-year-olds and that it had been scheduled to reflect that. Clearcast approved the ad with an "ex-kids" timing restriction.
The ASA said that the patient character did not appear to be threatened by the doctor and that he was presented as a surreal, eccentric figure rather than as a powerful or authoritative figure.
It decided that most viewers would understand that the ad was light-hearted in tone and was attempting to be humorous.
In a separate adjudication, a Kellogg's ad for Coco Pops also escaped censure following 26 complaints that it encouraged a harmful dietary practice.
The TV ad, created by Leo Burnett, showed two children returning home from school and looking for a snack. A voiceover says "If you're looking for an after school snack Coco Pops and cold milk are perfect partners". They find a box of Coco Pops and their mother agrees that they can have them.
The voiceover then says "Coco Pops and milk are a bowl full of chocolatey fun even after school." and on-screen text states "As part of a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle".
Viewers complained that it encouraged parents to feed their children a product that was high in sugar and that it implied it was appropriate for children to eat two bowls of Coco Pops a day.
The ASA did not uphold the complaints. It noted that Coco Pops with milk were low in fat, low in saturated fat and contained several vitamins as well as a significant proportion of the RDA for calcium and iron.
It acknowledged that because of the high sugar content, they should be eaten in moderation. However, it considered that the ad neither implied excessive consumption or that the cereal would necessarily be eaten for breakfast and as a snack, so it was not irresponsible to suggest they could be eaten as an after school snack.
It concluded that the ad was unlikely to encourage excessive consumption or poor nutritional habits in children.