An advert for vegan charity Viva! featuring a woman eating raw offal and blood from a corner-style yoghurt has been banned for being likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The ad, seen on Facebook and Instagram and the Duolingo and Poki Games apps in May, showed the woman opening the product labelled “Killer Yoghurt. Flavoured with a mother’s grief”, to the sound of upbeat music.
A voiceover said: “New from Killer Yoghurts – the umbilical cord flavour. Produced with only the finest ingredients, the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts.”
The woman was shown smiling and taking a spoonful from the corner section of the yoghurt, and then with blood on her teeth, lips and dripping down her chin.
A final scene showed an indoor dairy farming shed filled with cows and the text: “Excited to tuck in? Intensive dairy farming is on the rise in the UK.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received seven complaints that the ad was likely to cause unnecessary distress and serious and widespread offence and was irresponsibly targeted because it had been seen by children.
Viva! described the ad as a “theatrically staged parody” to “highlight the hypocrisy of companies which claimed their farms had high welfare standards”.
The charity said viewers were “increasingly numbed to shock factors like death and violence on TV” and believed the ad was mild in comparison.
The ASA said: “Although we acknowledged people would understand the ad was intended as a comment on animal welfare, we considered the graphic and gory imagery was likely to shock and cause a sense of disgust.”
It added: “We also considered language such as ‘the umbilical cord flavour’, ‘the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts’, alongside the graphic and gory imagery, was likely to be seen as frightening and distressing to children in particular.”
The ASA concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and unjustified distress.
The watchdog also concluded that targeting exclusions had been insufficient to keep the ad away from children.
It ruled that the ad must not appear again, adding: “We told Viva! to ensure future ads were prepared responsibly, were appropriately targeted and did not contain graphic scenes or language that were likely to cause unjustified distress to viewers.”
Viva! founder and director Juliet Gellatley said: “This ruling by the ASA is unjust and smacks of censorship.
“There are plenty of gory adverts for fantasy horror films that are shown on TV and online without any issues.
“Over three million people saw Viva!’s advert and were unoffended, but following just seven complaints, the ASA decided to shut it down.
“Adverts for meat and dairy products that falsely show farmed animals living in idyll are allowed to be shown despite them portraying staggeringly fake realities.”