September 24 2014 Latest news:
Duncan Brodie, business editor
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Activity holidays firm Center Parcs has had one of its adverts banned for encouraging parents to take their children out of school during term time.
The television ad promoting four-night midweek breaks featured families with school-aged children but with small print stating that the offer “excludes school holidays”.
Two viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged parents to take their children out of school during term time.
Center Parcs, which operates at five locations around the UK including Elveden Forest, in Suffolk, responded that it was the responsibility of parents to exercise judgment regarding their children, and that there was nothing in the ad that encouraged them to take their children out of school.
The advertising clearance service Clearcast also said the issue of taking children out of school during term time was the responsibility of parents.
In its ruling, however, the ASA said: “We considered the emphasis of the ad was on a family break and that the overall impression was that families could take advantage of the advertised offer, which was not available at weekends or during school holidays.
“We also noted the final on-screen text stated ‘Your family. Your time’, which we considered was likely to be an encouragement for parents to take up the offer.
“Because the ad had focused on a family break to promote an offer which was available only during term time, we concluded it irresponsibly encouraged parents to take their children out of school.”
The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.
A Center Parcs spokesman said that the company had always adhered to the ASA’s processes and guidelines, and that the advert subject to the complaints had been cleared for transmission by the relevant regulatory broadcast authority.
“We do not believe the ad encourages parents to take their children out of school and it is very clear that the price displayed excludes school holidays,” he said.
“This approach was taken based on the advice we were given by the ASA themselves.
“In our opinion, this ASA ruling represents a new interpretation of the guidelines,” the spokesman added.
“However, whilst we believe this ruling to be extremely harsh, we do of course take on board the ASA’s comments and will continue to work within their guidelines.”