The Advertising Standards Authority has been forced to investigate Merlin Entertainments after two complaints were received calling a Madame Tussauds ad “irresponsible” and “harmful”.

In August, Merlin released their latest advertisement for Madame Tussauds London – with a focus on the new Star Wars Adventure exhibit.

Screenshot 2015-11-25 at 22.07.12

The Merlin-loving family of four leave the taxi, in which they committed their heinous crimes

The advert featured a family of four entering a taxi, and the cab driver promptly bragging: “‘Ere, I had that David Beckham in here the other day.”

The father replies: “Oh yeah? We just met him. And Kim Kardishian.” – before the other family members describe the other celebrities they had ‘met’.

So far so innocent? Not according to two viewers, who contacted the Advertising Standards Authority about the advert. The agency then went on to investigate and published their findings in late October.

The ASA report explained: “The ad showed only the two adults putting on their seat belts.”

“Two complainants, who believed the ad showed behaviour that did not comply with the law, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.”

Merlin disagreed – saying that the taxi was stationary during the scene, and it was implied that the children would put their seatbelts on before the next scene.

NSFW: Mum and Dad are safe ... but think of the children!

NSFW: Mum and Dad are safe … but think of the children!

The report describes that Clearcast, responsible for clearing ads before they are broadcast, said: “because the parents were shown in the process of belting-up, that was a sufficient indicator that the family would continue to act responsibly by applying their seat belts before the taxi moved off.”

Ultimately, the Advertising Standards Authority did not uphold the complaint. The report said: “We agreed that the taxi was stationary in the opening scene, and considered it would have been possible for one of the children to move to another seat that was fitted with a seat belt before the taxi moved off.”

“Furthermore we considered that parents were likely to be aware of the importance of wearing a seat belt while a vehicle was in motion and therefore ensure the children’s safety by fitting their seat belts.”

Rule 20.2 of the advertising code states: “Advertisements must not condone or encourage a breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code.”


We incorrectly referred to the Advertising Standards Authority as the “Advertising Standards Agency” three times in the article. This has now been corrected.

Categories: Airgates

Michael Mander

I mainly cover Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, Adventure Island, Paramount London and other attractions in the south of England. Contact me at:

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