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GoCompare’s ‘Monster Bill’ ad banned from daytime TV after child swallows coins

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Computer-generated ‘Monster Bill’ who represents household bills as he swallows money, has been banned from TV screens before 7:30pm over concerns the advert could cause harm to younger kids.

A viewer complained about the advert which featured a woman being shocked to find a small animated monster eating the cash from her neighbour’s purse.

The neighbour explained that the monster was her home insurance bill to which the woman dramatically exclaimed “It’s eating all your money!”.

The complainant said her four-year-old child had emulated ‘Monster Bill’ by swallowing coins after watching the ad, and challenged whether the ad would encourage others to do the same.

In its response, GoCompare said the ad was “intended to depict the annoyance of a home insurance renewal notice in a comedic and fantastical manner”.

Further, the fictional character was used to “demonstrate the potential negative impact of allowing home insurance to renew without shopping around, through the eating of fake vouchers”.

It added that the cartoon-like character may interest children, but it wasn’t designed with that intention. “Rather, it was designed as a visual metaphor to show the higher costs people faced when they ignored their household bills” and “was intended for adults”.

GoCompare also said there was a difference between swallowing coins and the fictional character eating fake paper vouchers.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaint, saying that while older children would understand the scene, and even without any children appearing in the advert, it “considered that younger children might not appreciate the fantastical nature of the ad and might identify with the playful child-like character”.

It stated: “We were concerned, therefore, that the ad might encourage young children to attempt to swallow money themselves, which was a dangerous practice to emulate. As such, while we acknowledged that the ad was suitable for older children, there was a risk that the ad would cause harm to younger children.”

The ASA rules that in order to minimise the risk to younger children, the advert shouldn’t be aired before 7:30pm.

GoCompare added that it’s now exploring new ways to depict the way ‘Monster Bill’ wastes people’s hard-earned money and it’s open to suggestions from customers.

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