A TV ad featuring radio presenter Chris Moyles in a parody of The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony video from 1997 has been cleared by the advertising watchdog despite receiving more than 100 complaints. The promo for the Radio X (formerly Xfm) ad shows Moyles bumping into people as he walks down a street, knocking a paramedic out of his way and causing a man to spill coffee all over himself.
The advert, which ends with the ex-BBC Radio 1 DJ walking through the Radio X office building wall, prompted complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), with people saying it encouraged anti-social and violent behaviour. Some viewers even said it was inappropriate for children. Rulings by the ASA are often prompted by just a few complaints, but the Moyles advert saw 106 people contact the watchdog to urge it be banned.
The parent company of Radio X, This is Global, defended the advert, saying most viewers would recognise it as a parody of The Verve's hit music video. It said the promotion was a "humorous play on Chris Moyles' reputation and his determination to 'get into the music' and return to radio".
They argued the advert was carefully choreographed to ensure those Moyles barged into reacted in a "comical, and slightly surreal, tone". It said the "slapstick humour" was common in children's programmes and family films, and had been given an "ex-kids" restriction, which meant it was not shown around or during shows for under-16s.
The ASA today (27 January 2016) said it "understood the complainants' concerns about the behaviour shown" but also acknowledged Radio X's intention to parody a famous music video. The watchdog said the advert showed Moyles in a "surreal and far removed" scenario.
"We acknowledged that his actions in the ad were likely to be seen as unpleasant, but we considered that the context in which it was shown meant viewers were unlikely to interpret it as realistic and as an acceptable way to behave," it said. "In the particular circumstances of the ad, we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen to encourage or condone anti-social behaviour or bullying."
The advert was found not to have breached the ASA's code of conduct.