An ad for SodaStream featuring Gregor Clegane AKA The Mountain – a character from HBO series Game of Thrones – has been banned for combining adult language with inappropriate YouTube targeting.
The brand's 'Shame or Glory' campaign, which can be viewed in full above, has been spiked by the Advertising Standards Authority following complaints the public and The Natural Hydration Council.
In the spot, actor Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson was shown reprising his role as fearsome warrior The Mountain. However, it proved too much for the regulator thanks to "irresponsible targeting" coupled with the use of the word "fuck".
The video riffed off one of the most iconic scenes in the series in which one of the central characters is forced to partake in a public nude walk of shame, while a nun walks behind her ringing a bell and shouting "shame".
Turning the scene on its head, SodaStream showcased a regular Joe in a grocery story picking up a bottle of fizzy water. As he goes about his business he is followed by the actor who plays the nun shouting "shame" as members of the public watch with disgust. The man soon arrives at work, which turns out to be a Hollywood set, and hands the water to Clegane before The Mountain gives him a lecture on protecting the environment by avoiding plastic bottles, asserting: "Fuck plastic bottles."
Among several other complaints, The Natural Hydration Council challenged whether the ad was "offensive, distressing and irresponsibly targeted." The video had been shown both on the complainant's Facebook feed, and as a pre-roll ad served before a Pokemon Undertale video on YouTube.
SodaStream argued that the ad mimicked the tone, scenery and themes of Game of Thrones. The watchdog, however, determined that while it was unlikely to cause general offense it had indeed been wrongly targeted on YouTube.
The Facebook video was not a sponsored post, meaning it could be seen by anyone. Although, given that it featured language "many would find seriously offensive", and which was unsuitable to be heard by children, the regulator concluded that SodaStream had failed to target the ad responsibly on Facebook also.
YouTube said that the ad was in violation of its ad policies and it had taken steps to ensure the campaign did not run again on the platform in future. Facebook has also removed the ad.
The ASA has ruled it must not be shown again in its current form. "We told SodaStream to ensure that its ads were targeted appropriately and to avoid using language that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence," it said in a 3000-word ruling.
The watchdog rejected two further complaints against the brand, but did uphold a fourth claim about "misleading and unsubstantiated" environmental declarations published on the SodaStream's website.