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British Public Get Revenge On The Crazy Frog!

Discussion in 'TV Show Forum' started by PoochJD, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hi,

    Yes! Yes! And thrice, Yes! It seems that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), were not impressed with Jamster! :clap: Who are "Jamster", you may ask? If I said that this was the company that brought us the Crazy Frog (aka The Annoying Thing), Sweetie The Chick, and Nessie The Dragon, then you will know instantly what I'm on about - yep, ringtones, and animated mobile phone graphics.

    Well, here's what the ASA said, from their most recent report. I've adjusted one or two things, to make it more readable. My comments are in brackets, and always begin and end with a double-asterisk. This is a long post, so you may want to cut-and-paste it into a word processor, or print it out (about 8 x A4 pages) and read it off-line. :)

    ADVERTISER: Jamba! GmbH (trading as Jamster! Clubs)
    MEDIA: Television
    COMPLAINTS: 298

    Complaint:
    Jamster! Club ads offered realtones, video-ringtones, screensavers, logos, games, and software for mobile phones. The ads featured animated models Crazy Frog, Nessie the Dragon or Sweetie the Chick. All the ads had on-screen text which said "16+ & bill payers permission", and gave the text number to contact, a helpline number, as well as the words needed to text for the various ringtones/videotones. Each ad had scrolling text at the bottom of the screen which varied slightly depending on the offer. The Crazy Frog ad said "Join Jamster Clubs. Credits 3 polytones, 2 realtones or 2 video ringtones and logos & software (+ music news) for £3/a week. Compatible handset required. Unsubscribe text ’stop’. Normal operator charges." The majority of complaints were about the Crazy Frog ad, although many of the viewers also commented on the other ads. Complaint 1: Eighty viewers believed the ads had not clearly explained that it was a subscription service that was being advertised, rather than a one-off payment for a single ringtone. Complaint 2: Sixty-four of these viewers, as well as a further 180 viewers (244 in total), were concerned that the style of the ads were of particular appeal to children. Another 33 said that their children had downloaded the ringtones, and subsequently received large phone bills. Twenty-four of these specifically mentioned that the children had not understood that this was a subscription service.

    Adjudication:
    Issue 1. Complaints upheld! Jamster said that it was fully committed to the global mobile telephone industry and as such regarded responsible advertising as extremely important to their current and future business. (**Who do Jamster think they're kidding?!**) They said that following a previous uphold by the ASA (6 April 2005) against their ads on television and in the press they had taken significant positive steps to make the nature of their product clearer. These changes were designed to reinforce that the service was based on a recurring payment requirement, which gave the customer the right to membership in the Jamster Clubs, and that all relevant pricing information was prominently displayed. Jamster pointed out that the ads in question were no longer being broadcast. They said that all their future advertising would be in full compliance with the new requirements of the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS).
    (i) The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) said that the ads had been amended as a result of the previous adjudication so that the line "join the Jamster club" was in the audio. They said they agreed this amendment on the basis that this line together with the legal text in the ads was sufficient to indicate that this was a subscription service. Jamster said that throughout the ads the heading "Jamster! Clubs" had been prominently displayed at the top of the screen. They believed that a reasonable viewer would have understood that a membership arrangement was intrinsic to the act of joining a club, and this heading informed the customer of an ongoing relationship with Jamster. They believed this heading reinforced the fact that this was a subscription service. The voice-overs said "Join the Jamster Clubs ..." and "... join the Jamster Clubs for more fun ...". Jamster maintained that the voice-overs reinforced the on-screen text and the club-based nature of the service. They believed that viewers would understand that an ongoing club/membership relationship was based on a recurring payment fee. (** Actually, a club can include a single, one-off payment to join it; an annual payment to retain membership, and/or a fee everytime you use the club's services. So, Jamster were wrong to assume what they did! **) We accepted that with the voice-over and heading most viewers would understand the need to join the Jamster Club. However, we did not consider that "join" would automatically be understood to mean "subscribe" because not all clubs charged a fee to join, or required a frequent recurring payment. (** See my previous comment! **)

    (ii) Jamster said that the voice-over in the ads used plural terms, rather than singular, to emphasise that it was not a single ringtone that was being offered. The voice-over said "Just text xxxx for the polys, xxxx for the reals, or xxxx for the video ringtones to xxxxx ..." Jamster believed that this reinforced the message that a customer could download several items as a consequence of their recurring payment as a member of the Jamster Club. (** Did Jamster really think that adding the letter "s" onto a word, meant that a customer could download several items, rather than how most people would interpret it, which would be as several items to choose from? How nieve of them! **) We considered that the use of plurals in the ads had not clarified a continuing commitment. "Just text xxxx for the polys ..." could also have been taken to mean there were a number of polys available from which to choose a single download.

    (iii) Jamster said that the scrolling text at the bottom of the screen complied with the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules on the text size, the number of words on screen and the speed of the scrolling message. They also pointed out that in the published ASA adjudication (6 April 2005) on their previous ads, the ASA had confirmed that the scrolling text included all the requisite information. The same text had been used in these ads. On-screen text may be used to expand or clarify an offer, or to make minor qualifications, but the principal offer and any important qualifications should not normally appear only in the form of on-screen text. We acknowledged that the relevant important conditions were included in the scrolling text of the ads and that the text complied with the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules on size and speed. However, in addition to the rolling text, the ads had a lot of on-screen text and we considered that important conditions, such as the recurring cost, should have been stated more prominently, for example in voice-over.

    (iv) Jamster said that once a customer subscribed to their service, they would immediately receive a free SMS telling them that they had joined a recurring payment-based service; the price per week/month; how to cancel the service; the customer care number; and what services were included in that particular Jamster Club membership. Jamster also pointed out that there was no minimum recurring payment period. Therefore a customer could just keep the initial ringtone and then cancel the subscription, although they would have to pay the first week's fee. While we were reassured that details of the Jamster Clubs were sent to customers post subscription, the ads encouraged customers to subscribe and therefore should have made the nature of the service clear so customers were informed before subscribing. We acknowledged the efforts Jamster had made to incorporate changes in the ads following the previous ASA adjudication. However, regardless of the changes, we considered that the subscription nature of the service had still not been sufficiently explained in the ads.

    Issue 2. Complaints upheld! Jamster strongly refuted the complaints that their ads were of particular appeal to children, or targeted them. (** Yeah, right Jamster! And I'm guessing that you also believe that Hitler was a really cuddly bloke, too, huh?! **) They said that their content services were designed and targeted at the 18- to 49-year-old market, and a recent internal survey had shown that the average user profile age of the typical Jamster Club member was 32.6 years old. (** I don't believe that at all! **)

    i) The BACC said that all premium rate lines attracted a timing restriction (‘ex-kids’) to keep the ads away from programmes made for or aimed at children. This restriction is used for ads considered inappropriate for under eight-year-olds. The BACC did not consider that the ads were inappropriate for children over eight years of age. They believed that although Crazy Frog, Nessie the Dragon, and Sweetie the Chick might have some appeal to children, they also had a wider appeal to all ages. (** Some appeal?! Are they stupid?! In my eyes, the characters seem to be specifically aimed at youngsters! **) Jamster pointed out that the BACC had applied an ‘ex-kids’ restriction. This restriction is automatically applied to ads where services are ordered via SMS text. Jamster said that they had not disputed or appealed this decision as it had no material effect on their targeting to their 18- to 49-year-old audience, and they had no strategy to target any part of the children's market. They also did not advertise in publications aimed at under 16-year-olds. (** That might be true, but that doesn't stop under-16's from buying magazines like "Empire", "FHM", "Maxim", "DVD Review", etc, which have all featured your ads/ringtones, in one form or another! **) They said that a ringtone was a fun item, of no harm to adults or children, and no more expensive than many small items on which a child may spend pocket money.

    The 'ex-kids' restriction is usually applied to advertising which is inappropriate for children up to about eight years old. Advertising deemed inappropriate for children over eight requires a stronger restriction. We acknowledged that Jamster's intended target audience was 18- to 49-year age group and agreed that the ads were not aimed at children. Nonetheless, the product was of interest to children and we did not agree that a ringtone subscription − an ongoing commitment − was similar in nature to a one off pocket money purchase. The ads were seen at all times of the day (other than during programmes made for or aimed at children) when children over eight years of age would be viewing.

    ii) Jamster provided us with an internal survey to show that their customers were adults, not children. The survey, based on 2266 calls to their customer service department, was taken over a six-day period. All the customers who contacted them were asked about the age of the user. The figures showed that 3.87% were under 16 years, with the largest group being 18−29 years. Jamster believed that the true number of under-age users was in fact below 3.87% as complaints to the customer call centre were likely to be concentrated in nature and unrepresentative of general usage. We appreciated the efforts taken by Jamster to initiate a survey to provide us with customer figures, but we did not consider that the internal survey had been adequate to show the age of Jamster customers. It was based on calls to the customer service department over a six-day period. We did not consider this to be a sufficiently accurate reflection of Jamster's customer base as it was compiled from a small number of adults contacting the customer services.

    (iii) Jamster said that there was a popular misconception among some consumers that mobile content and entertainment was of limited appeal to adults, while being of a high degree of interest to younger users. (** And this misconception is actually probably very accurate. How many 47 year olds, do you folks know who donwload ringtones, like Sweetie The Chick?! **) Jamster said this was not the case. (** Well Jamster must be very dumb then! **) They pointed to a recently published German survey on the purchase of ringtones generally which stated that 84% of buyers were 16 years of age or older. (** That doesn’t mean that the purchasers of the ringtones weren't buying them on-behalf of youngsters! **) They said a survey of visitors to the Jamster website showed that the vast majority were over 16 years. (** How did Jamster work this out, from the number of people visiting a website, that the majority of people were genuinely over 16 years old? **)

    They also referred to the recent success of the Crazy Frog single, which reached number one in the UK. Jamster provided evidence to show that the majority of CD buyers were male aged 18−49 years, which they said clearly showed that the target audience for the Crazy Frog music and ringtone was in this age group, not younger. (** Again, a very misguided notion on Jamster's part! The average person buying a CD single, is actually likely to be a teenage girl, not an adult male, within the UK! **) We did not disagree that the mobile content was of appeal to adults; our concern was its appeal to children as demonstrated by the complaints we received. We noted that the German survey had shown the majority of ringtone buyers (though not specific to Jamster) were over 16 years. However, 16% were still under that age. In deciding whether these ads were of appeal, we took into account a recent Wireless World Forum survey that had shown that over 9 million under-15's in the UK had a mobile phone, and that under 25-year-olds spent eight times as much on mobile phones as on traditional music. Also a consumer research company (TNS) survey revealed that over 35% of ringtone buyers were aged between 12 and 24 years, with non-buyers in that age group totalling only 18%. While the 18- to 49-year-age market may be the main purchasers, under 16-year olds were still a significant group. We were satisfied that the product was of interest to children.

    (iv) Jamster said that Crazy Frog was specifically targeted at an 18- to 49-year-old male audience, Sweetie and Nessie at 18- to 49-year-old female and male audience. (** That might have been the case, but Jamster were being truly nieve on this part! **) They told us that they had no specific focus on broadcast timing, and gave no greater promotion to any of the characters at certain times of the day. The Jamster ads had been scheduled in breaks with other ads such as Gillette, Persil, and Tesco, all aimed at the adult market. Jamster said that this showed that the target audience for their ads was adult. (** Complete :censored: ! **) They supplied figures to show that the percentage of the over 16-year age group of the total audience when their ads were broadcast, for the period January to May, was always well above 85%. They also supplied figures for ITV (ITV1 only) on 14 May, which showed that the audience of over 16 years of age for their ads was between 89% and 96%. They believed that the BACC restriction and their scheduling of the ads were therefore sufficient safeguards against under 16-year-olds being exposed to the ads. We checked the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) figures supplied by Ofcom for all 224 Jamster ad spots on ITV for the 14 May. (** Good grief! Their ads were shown 224 times in just one single day. That's the same, as saying the ads played 9 times every hour, or once every 7 minutes! So none of use were dreaming! Their ads genuinely were appearing in practically every ad break! And this was for just one single channel! :eek: **)

    As would be expected the child audience profile varied, from 0% up to 43%. However, the frequency of the ads and the ex-kids restriction meant that it was difficult to avoid children seeing them. We also checked the 209 Jamster spots on a selection of non-terrestrial channels for the same day. (** The ads also appeared nearly just as often, on other channels as well! Talk about saturating the market! **) The child profile ranged from 0% on some channels to 100% on others. The channels with the highest child audience profile were Challenge, Trouble and MTV. Of the 209 Jamster spots, 56 had a child audience profile of 25% or over. (** In other words, every other audience member watching was almost guaranteed to be under-16 when they saw the advert! **) We considered that, despite Jamster's scheduling aims, their ads were still being seen by a sizeable child audience as demonstrated by the complaints. (** Oh really?! Well, isn't that a shock! :rolleyes: **) An ‘ex-kids’ restriction would not safeguard against under 16-year-olds being exposed to the ads.

    (v) Jamster said that many advertisers used animated characters in their ads for products and services aimed at adults. (** Of course, the vast majority of 18-49 year olds just love cartoons, don't they, Jamster?! :rolleyes: **) The animated characters appealed to an audience of 16-year-olds and over, just as their ads had. They said that films and music often used animated characters when targeting adults. We acknowledged that animated characters are often used in ads for products or services for an adult audience. Children might have found characters such as the Churchill dog of interest, but the product itself had no appeal. (** Yeah, especially seeing as there are so many 12-year old Porsche owners driving on UK roads these days, who always get into accidents on the Spaghetti Junction, or on the M1 motorway! **) The problem is when the characters are combined with a product that is of interest to children, even though it is unsuitable for them. We considered that had been the problem with this advertising.

    (vi) The BACC said that mobile phones were not toys. It was up to parents or guardians to instruct and oversee their usage, particularly as they were the bill payers. They believed that the responsibility lay with the parents not the advertiser. (** That's true, but then the BACC and Jamster obviously don't know how beligerent the average 16 year old can be, when they really want something! **) Jamster said that the ads clearly stated "16+ and bill payers permission" throughout. It was clear that the service was not for children. However, Jamster had trained its customer care centre staff to request the age of the user of the telephone when they contacted the care centre, and to immediately terminate the service where it appeared that the caller was under 16 years of age. (** And, of course, a caller's really going to be 100% honest aren't they?! :rolleyes: **) They said that this text together with the background of parental responsibility and control was an adequate warning. (** Again, complete :censored: ! **) Although mobile phones are not toys, the fact that games can be played on them, photos taken, or music downloaded makes them appealing to children, other than for just making calls. We appreciated that it would be impossible for parents to control fully how their children use their mobile phones. However, ads must not take advantage of children's inexperience or their credulity and, on the basis of the complaints we received, we considered that these ads had. We noted that the ads carried the information "16+ and bill payers permission" and this was on screen throughout the ads. However, the service could easily be provided by texting a word to the number seen in the ads. It was not possible to check the age of the person involved before the ringtone was sent to their phone and a cost incurred, and we considered that a stricter timing restriction was required to keep the material away from children.

    (vii) Jamster maintained that the fact that some children might have chosen to generate a large phone bill without regard to the price of the calls, text messages or downloads in the knowledge that the bill was paid by someone else, would not in itself make an ad in breach of the Code. They believed that it would be inappropriate to make judgements on the ads based on a consumer who chose to ignore pricing and other relevant information in an ad because someone else was paying. (** And if that were the case, then maybe that implies that the ads were desirable, and thus posed a threat, to under-16's who saw the ads! **)

    We considered that children are not as sophisticated as adults in their understanding of advertising. They are less likely to weigh the pros and cons of the offer being made. If interested in a product, they might not be discouraged by the age restriction warning if they read it, being more interested in the product itself. The ease with which it was possible to subscribe to the ringtone almost instantaneously, simply by texting, would also appeal to a child's sense of urgency in wanting the ringtone. (** Exactly! All anyone had to do, was pick up their mobile, text a word to a five-digit number, and they were then "hooked" into the Jamster phone club! **)

    (viii) Jamster said that they believed the complaints to the ASA were from adults, not children, and appeared to stem from adult viewers’ annoyance with the ads’ characters; the frequency of the advertising; and a misconception by adults that ringtone users are children. (** Fact: ringtone users are mostly kids! **) They said that the number of complaints was small compared with the two million satisfied club members in the UK, and the huge popularity of the characters with over 40,000 TV spots in May 2005 alone,.maintained - that with the ads receiving such exposure - a certain number of complaints was inevitable, but they believed that the complaints were predominantly made by adults with the mistaken view that the ads were targeted at and unsuitable for their children. (** Forty thousand ads in a single month, equates to Jamster's ads being shown Jamster a gigantic, and exceedingly dangerous, 1290 times per day! This equates to 53 times per hour, or practically every single minute, of the entire day, for an entire month solid! If that fact doesn't shock any parent, about the power of the media and advertising, then I don't know what will! And if that figure is correct, how on earth could anybody at all, have escaped the adverts, let alone anyone under 16 years of age?! They couldn't, short of never watching a second of TV throughout the entire month of May! :eek: :eek: **)

    Jamster said that Crazy Frog, Sweetie the Chick and Nessie the Dragon characters had developed a wide and deep following among the public such that the characters had taken on the characteristics of a social and cultural mass phenomena. (** Mainly down to over-exposure through the ads. If people hadn't had them forced on them for nearly every minute of the day, then maybe the ads wouldn't have had such a "deep following" as Jamster says! **) Jamster gave various examples of press reports on the popularity of Crazy Frog. We agreed with Jamster that the frequency of the ads and the publicity had generated complaints. However, the viewers raised legitimate concerns about the influence of the ads on children.

    We noted that the complaints were from adults, but it is unusual to receive complaints from children, especially where the children were no doubt pleased with the product. (** In other words, not only were adults complaining, but so were kids too, and complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority! This suggests, that kids today are actually far more knowledgeable than we give them credit for! **) We acknowledged the huge impression Crazy Frog and the other characters had made on the public. We considered that it was this success that had added to the problem of appeal to children and that because the product was of such interest to them a greater level of protection was needed than that which an ex-kids restriction provided. Adults and children appeared to have been drawn into the phenomenon.

    The 40,000 TV broadcasts in a one-month period made it most unlikely that a child would not have been aware of the characters. The frequency of the ads, peer pressure, merchandising such as children's T-shirts, the hit CD, articles in the press, and the ease of being able to subscribe by text, with no initial payment being made, all added to the problem. The fact that a number of complainants reported that children had run up large phone bills showed that children had been influenced.

    We considered that although the ads might not have been aimed at children, they were nonetheless of strong appeal to them and the product was clearly of interest to them. We therefore considered that a timing restriction placing the ads post 9 pm should be applied.

    The ads featuring Crazy Frog, Nessie the Dragon, and Sweetie the Chick breached: CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules:
    - 5.1 (Misleading advertising)
    - 7.1.1 (Children's inexperience)
    - 7.3 (Harm and distress - moral harm)
    - 7.3.7 (Use of scheduling restrictions), and
    - CAP (Broadcast) Rules on the Scheduling of Advertisements, rule 4.2.3 (Treatments unsuitable for children).

    Tut, tut, tut, Jamster! :nono: Looks like inflicting these abominations on the British public can hideously backfire on you! :rotfl: Thank goodness, the ASA punished Jamster for inflicting probably one of the most irritating and dire advertisement promotions on viewers! :clap: :clap: :smashin:


    Pooch
     
  2. Gary D

    Gary D
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    Pooch is that the longest post in forum history!!! :D :eek:

    Down with the Crazy Frog :smashin:


    Gary
     
  3. GrahamC

    GrahamC
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    Looks like the frog's been PoochdJD on from a great hight. :thumbsup:
     
  4. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hi,

    Possibly - at a measly 4289 words! :D But you still read the damn thing, didn't you?! And I bet you enjoyed reading every single word of it, too. :rotfl:


    Pooch
     
  5. Battle

    Battle
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    It would be interesting to know how much all that advertising space cost Jamster - 40,000 adverts in one month somtimes twice in the same ad break and at primetimes on prime shows
     
  6. GalacticaActual

    GalacticaActual
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    Great stuff pooch!!!!!!! in best blakey on the buses voice

    "thats made my day that has"
     
  7. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hi Dave_S,

    Thanks for the nice comments! :) I'm glad this post was of interest to so many people! :thumbsup:


    Pooch
     
  8. Cynthia 7

    Cynthia 7
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    Wow Pooch,

    That's a real Marathon effort! I have to admit I didn't read every single word as I do normally with your posts!

    Please don't tell us that you will be too exhausted to do our precious updates next weekend as the result of this incredible post. I imagine you now to be lying flat on your back, speechless and fingerless.

    Nevertheless, great stuff, only you could do it!
     
  9. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hey Cynthia,

    Thanks for the pleasant words, Cynthia! :)

    I should be okay to do a normal weekly update, and it should get posted around Saturday lunchtime. And whilst the "Crazy Frog" post was lengthy, I felt it was important (and funny) enough to warrant the amount of detail, that I wrote.


    Pooch
     

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