The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received a complaint alleging that TV ads touting a subscription service for animated mobile phone wallpaper were exploiting children.
The complaint centred on an ad from Blinck Amsterdam which claimed: 'Get the best animated screensavers on your mobile ... amaze your friends with the coolest moving wallpapers; they're wicked, they're great ...'.
The on-screen text said: 'Join MOVE for £9 per week, 3 images every week ... Min. age 16+ with bill payers permission'. The voiceover at the end of the ad, which had been speeded up, said: '£1.50 per SMS, 6 per week'.
Viewers complained that the ad was aimed at children, and was likely to exploit this vulnerable group because it did not make the cost and nature of the subscription service clear enough.
Blinck Amsterdam said it ensured that the ads were scheduled around programmes that targeted 16-34 year-olds, not children.
Nevertheless, the company maintained that it had inserted on-screen text to make clear that the ad offered a subscription service that was not for children, pointing out that it had quoted the price 'per week', stated 'Unsubscribe?', inserted details of their website and stated 'Min. age 16+'.
Blinck Amsterdam added that the voiceover also stated that the ad was for a subscription service and included the associated costs.
The firm went on to explain that the first message received by a subscriber was a free customer care message that explained the pricing mechanism and also made clear that it was an ongoing service that required de-registration.
The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre stated that it had considered the ICSTIS Code of Practice when approving the ad, and did not accept that the section relating to children's services was relevant, because it believed the ad did not promote a children's service.
In throwing out the complaint the ASA acknowledged that the ad had been scheduled away from children's programmes and considered that, although the ad could appeal to some children, it did not directly target them.
"We considered that the price of each text and the number of texts sent per week were important conditions that were likely to affect a viewer's decision to purchase a wallpaper from Blinck, but acknowledged that the on-screen text and customer care texts included the price and nature of the subscription service," said the ASA.
"We therefore concluded that the cost and nature of the subscription service had been made sufficiently clear."
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