Ask students what they think people are most likely to complain about.

What do you think people are most likely to make complaints about?

Make a list of the top three things that, in your opinion, make people complain.

The most complained-about advert is the KFC Zinger advert. [1500 complaints]

It is important to understand how adverts are regulated (this can also help students when planning their own ideas as there are rules to think of). The ASA site has an Education resource section which is useful for further study.

ASA – Advertising Standards Authority

  • All ads should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
  • Without good reason advertisers should not play on fear or incite distress.
  • Advertisers should not condone nor incite violence or antisocial behaviour; they should not offend.
  • There are specific rules concerning health claims with regards to such things as tobacco and alcohol.
  • Children are also carefully considered – ‘advertisements should not contain anything which is likely to exploit their credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty’.

[ASA cannot censor adverts, it can respond to complaints and make advertisers aware of public concern. It can put pressure on advertisers to pull adverts.]


The Marmite spoof documentary TV ad

Different responses

Read the information in the downloadable sheet about the Marmite spoof documentary advert.

Role play a debate about the advert.

  • Animal rights campaigner
  • Advert creator
  • RSPCA representative
  • Spokesperson from Unilever
  • Fans of the Marmite brand
  • ASA adjudicator

What is your viewpoint? Is the advert offensive and irresponsible? Or is it obviously light-hearted?

Write your own personal response.

Students can be encouraged to explore the issues and debates surrounding the use of celebrities to promote products, particularly fast foods, sugary foods and so on. They can discuss, in groups, and be asked to organise ones they agree or disagree with and/or put them in a hierarchy as to the extent to which they agree with them. This can be developed through role-play activities where learners take on the viewpoint of different people: teenager, parent, food company, teacher, health worker, etc. This allows for students to see the issues from different perspectives. statement cards can be printed out to be cut up and shared out.

Issues and debates: advertising and unhealthy foods.

Discuss the following:

Celebrities are important role models for young people. When a sportsperson like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney or Gareth Bale advertises a sugary drink, it sends out the wrong message.

Fast food companies often pay sports stars and celebrities to appear in ads because they are popular with children. This encourages young people to eat unhealthily.

Advertisers only care about profits. Celebrities appearing in adverts boost sales. Sales of Walkers’ crisps increased after Gary Lineker started appearing in the adverts.

When sporting events are sponsored by fast food and soft drinks companies it encourages young people to get involved in sport; this is a good thing.

Celebrities should teach young people to eat more healthily.

Children need to be protected from adverts.

Young children are capable of making their own decisions about what to eat. They are not persuaded by adverts.

Fast food and sugary drinks are responsible for the rise in unhealthy eating habits.

Advertising of sugary soft drinks and unhealthy food should be banned.

Advertisers of unhealthy foods should not be allowed to place ads on TV when children might be watching.

It’s the responsibility of a parent to teach their child to eat healthily.

Fast food is not harmful in moderation.