Children and baby products retailer told to remove pillow ad

An advert by children and baby products retailer The Little Ones has been deemed as irresponsible over unsafe sleeping practices.

A product page for the “Baby Elephant Hug Pillow” on The Little Ones website was seen on 25 October 2023. The ad featured images of the pillow, including one which featured a sleeping infant, lying on their side between the elephant’s legs and cuddling it.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who understood the infant was shown in an unsafe sleep position associated with Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), challenged whether the image was irresponsible because it condoned or encouraged an unsafe practice.

In response, Marble Corporation Ltd t/a The Little Ones said the image in the ad was provided to them, along with the other product images, from the supplier.

They acknowledged that the baby was shown to be sleeping and resting on the pillow, but did not believe that the image suggested babies should sleep in a cot with the product or be left unsupervised whilst sleeping with it. They said that the image did not feature a cot, and because of that, they believed the ad did not encourage parents to put their babies to bed with the pillow.

The Little Ones also said that the ad stated not to leave babies unsupervised with the product and provided an image of the product label which re-iterated that recommendation. However, they believed there were scenarios that were safe for babies and infants under adult supervision, which could be unsafe if they were left unattended. Furthermore, they said the product was not solely intended to cuddle and that it could also be used as a toy.

Following an investigation, the ASA understood that babies whose heads were covered were at an increased risk of SUDI. It stated that pillows should not be used by babies because they would be unable to push any bedding away, and consequently, were at risk of suffocation if their face became smothered by such items.

The ad described the product as a “hug pillow” and featured an image of a sleeping baby lying on their side and cuddling the pillow. “We considered that consumers would interpret the image of the sleeping baby to mean that they had been put to bed with the pillow and had been placed on their side to sleep,” the ASA said.

“We also considered that the text “hug pillow” reinforced the impression that it was intended for infants and babies to cuddle it, as they slept. We acknowledged that the ad stated parents should not leave their babies or children unsupervised with the product and did not feature a cot. However, we considered that did not override the overall impression of the ad.

“Because the ad showed a baby sleeping on its side and using a pillow, which were both unsafe sleep practices associated with SUDI, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and encouraged an unsafe practice.

“We told Marble Corporation Ltd t/a The Little Ones to ensure their future ads were socially responsible and did not encourage or condone unsafe practices.”

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