Furniture retailer wins advert challenge; deemed not irresponsible

A TV ad for furniture retailer DUSK, seen on 14 December 2023, featured a couple sitting on a sofa, surrounded by children’s toys.

One of them picked up a bottle of wine and a filled wine glass and stated, “Going to a fancy showroom would be very nice. But I think that buying this new sofa from dusk.com and having money left in the bank for parenting essentials is nicer”. They then shrugged and stated, “Dusk sayin’” and raised the wine glass to their partner.

A single complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it implied drinking alcohol had therapeutic qualities and could be used to cope with parenthood.

In response, DUSK said the ad portrayed a couple unwinding together on their new DUSK sofa after putting their children to bed. They said the ad was a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a relatable scenario for a lot of parents.

DUSK said the line “parenting essentials” was a play on the usual parenting essentials and the ad did not imply that the parent needed, or could not cope without, alcohol. The ad insinuated that, given the choice and their current situation with young children at home, the parent would prefer to order a sofa online at home to save money, and celebrate with a glass of wine, over the potential extra time and expense of going out to the shops.

They said the wine glass was a deliberately moderate glass of wine. The rest of the wine bottle was full, so it was their first glass, and it was clear they had not been drinking irresponsibly through the day.

Clearcast said the ad was part of a series that showed DUSK customers talking about buying furniture online at DUSK and using the left-over money towards something else and was not a commentary on alcohol consumption. They said the “parenting essential” line was humorous, tongue-in-cheek, and immaterial to the story.

Clearcast added there was nothing in the parents’ behaviour to suggest they were struggling with parenting and in need of alcohol, nor was it implied that pouring a glass of wine was shameful or that the parent was going against accepted standards in needing alcohol as a parental curative. The ad did not show the dad reacting in a concerned way to the wine being poured, and there was no implication that it should be kept a secret.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that there was no breach and dismissed the challenge, stating: “The ad featured a couple sitting on a sofa with one female character talking about how they had decided to purchase a sofa from DUSK.com for a lower price than a sofa from a “fancy” showroom, which meant they had money left over for “parenting essentials”.

“The ASA considered the line “having money left in the bank for parenting essentials is nicer”, as the parent picked up a bottle of wine and a wine glass, was delivered in a humorous manner and that the overall tone of the ad was light-hearted.

“While we acknowledged some viewers may have found the reference in the ad to alcohol as a “parenting essential” distasteful, neither parent was shown consuming alcohol, and we considered it did not go as far as suggesting alcohol was an indispensable crutch for parents, or that it was in any way therapeutic.

For those reasons we concluded the ad was not irresponsible. We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsibility), and 19.7 and 19.8 (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.”

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