An advert created by vegan charity Viva! has been banned for containing ‘gory’ imagery that could be ‘distressing’.
The commercial, which was distributed via Facebook and Instagram as well as being shown on the Duolingo and Poki Games apps in May, shows a woman eating a corner-style yoghurt.
Rather than fruit compote, the corner of the yoghurt contains blood and raw offal-like substances. It is labelled ‘Killer Yoghurt. Flavoured with a mother’s grief’.
A voiceover says: “New from Killer Yoghurts – the umbilical cord flavour. Produced with only the finest ingredients, the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts.”
As she takes a spoonful of the yoghurt and smiles, blood is seen on the woman’s teeth and lips, and dripping down her chin.
The commercial cuts to a final scene which shows footage of cows in a dairy farming shed, while text on the screen reads: “Excited to tuck in? Intensive dairy farming is on the rise in the UK.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received seven complaints about the now banned vegan advert. Complainants claimed the commercial had been targeted irresponsibly, as it had been seen by children.
In addition, it was claimed that viewers were likely to experience distress, with the ad potentially causing serious and widespread offence.
The ASA agreed it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and unjustified distress and that, as children had seen the ad, targeting exclusions had been insufficient to keep the ad away from them.
According to the ASA’s ruling: “Although we acknowledged people would understand the ad was intended as a comment on animal welfare, we considered the graphic and gory imagery was likely to shock and cause a sense of disgust.”
It continued: “We also considered language such as ‘the umbilical cord flavour’, ‘the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts’, alongside the graphic and gory imagery, was likely to be seen as frightening and distressing to children in particular.”
Ruling that the ad must not appear again, it concluded: “We told Viva! to ensure future ads were prepared responsibly, were appropriately targeted and did not contain graphic scenes or language that were likely to cause unjustified distress to viewers.”
The 'Killer Yoghurt' ad was deemed 'likely to cause serious or widespread offence and unjustified distress'. Screenshot courtesy of Viva!
The banned vegan advert was described by the charity as a ‘theatrically staged parody’ which had been designed to ‘highlight the hypocrisy of companies which claimed their farms had high welfare standards’.
Speaking about the ban, Viva! founder and director Juliet Gellatley said the decision smacked of censorship – noting how few people had complained about the ad.
She said: “This ruling by the ASA is unjust and smacks of censorship.
“There are plenty of gory adverts for fantasy horror films that are shown on TV and online without any issues.
“Over three million people saw Viva!’s advert and were unoffended, but following just seven complaints, the ASA decided to shut it down.
“Adverts for meat and dairy products that falsely show farmed animals living in idyll are allowed to be shown despite them portraying staggeringly fake realities.”
Shocked by the advert? Learn more about why feminists don’t drink dairy
Featured photo © Viva!