Heinz Bean 'Can Song' ad canned by ASA for posing danger to children

The central part of a £4m campaign from Heinz Beans has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for posing a danger to children and encouraging "unsafe practice".

The brand's 'Heinz Bean Can Song' depicted teenagers, children and older people in various situations using the product's iconic cans as musical instruments to produce a song. However, nine people in total complained about the minute-long spot to the ASA. Some challenged whether the ad encouraged unsafe practice because of the potential risk posed by tapping or placing fingers inside the sharp edges of an open can. Others argued that the ad featured behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.

The watchdog upheld the complaints on both grounds despite Heinz arguing that that throughout it the can was tapped only on its sealed top, its bottom or sides. The food giant added that the children depicted tapping cans in the ad were always shown in the presence of an adult. Furthermore, it contested that it did not consider any of the scenes in the ad to be solely directed at, or particularly appealing to, children because they featured either an adult only or a family setting. It also stated that text within the ad referred consumers to social media sites which included instructions on preparing a can to replicate the song.

The ASA said it considered that consumers encouraged to learn the Can Song were unlikely to be as proficient as the actors shown in the ad and that in any case, particularly given the maneuvers required, "it might still be possible that mistakes could be made with an empty can, which might include a hand or fingers being inserted into an open tin (with the associated risk of cuts)."

It said that ad was likely to condone or encourage behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate, and as such concluded it breached the code.

The watchdog warned that the ad, which was part of nationwide campaign, must not be broadcast again in its current form, and told Heinz to ensure that future ads did not condone or encourage behaviour that prejudiced health and safety, including behaviour that could be dangerous for children to mimic.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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