Does the ICC Code on Advertising and Marketing lack a sense of humour?

Mars, owner of the Snickers brand, is running an advertising campaign based on the über-macho Mr. T from the A-Team TV series. The campaign is based on a tongue-in-cheek challenge to the male consumers' manhood. The international website for the campaign can be found here http://www.getsomenuts.tv/ . Whether this site is in all details identical with the Swiss site judged below is not entirely clear because the Swiss site is not accessible anymore, for reasons that will become apparent.

The Swiss self governing body of the advertising industry, the Lauterkeitskommission, has ruled in a decision published this January that the campaign violates the International Chamber of Commerce's Code on Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice (ICC Code). Art. 18 of the ICC Code reads, under the heading "social values":

Marketing communication should not suggest that possession or use of the promoted product will give a child or young person physical, psychological or social advantages over other children or young people, or that not possessing the product will have the opposite effect.

The Lauterkeitskommission held that the Snickers campaign was directed at kids and young persons - so much is pretty clear. It then held that the campaign suggested that possession of the goods - we are talking about a chocolate bar here - made the owner more manly and stronger. This was a violation of the above cited provision of the ICC Code and made the campaign unfair under the practice of the Lauterkeitskommission.

Given the very tongue-in-cheek nature of the campaign, this blogger wonders whether the campaign should not have been judged with "humour mode enabled". He also wonders whether not just about any advertising is aimed at creating the impression that one gets a physical, psychological or social advantage from possession of the goods. Isn't that at the heart of any image advertising that goes beyond merely listing the product characteristics?

The decision (in German) can be found here; caution, 22 MB PDF file.

Posted by: Mark Schweizer @ 09.36
Tags: Switzerland, ICC, advertising, unfair,
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