Coles’ Stikeez collectables labelled ‘gambling for children’ in Ad Standards complaint

A complaint lodged to industry watchdog, Ad Standards, has compared Coles’ collectable rubber vegetables, ‘Stikeez’, to gambling for children with the “intent of using the children as psychological pressure on parents to buy products they don’t need”.

The complaint was sparked by an ad marketing the rare versions of the collectables which appeared on YouTube, that the Ad Standards panel deemed to be appealing to children based on the voiceover provided by a child and the animated visuals of the toys.

The concerns in the complaint included that the Stikeez were not a product within their own right and that the price of the toys was not disclosed, which breaches the terms of the children’s code.

Coles customers earn one Stikeez with every $30 they spend at a supermarket or Coles petrol station. The children’s code states that prices mentioned in advertising targeted at children must be clearly understood by a child under 14. However, the panel deemed the language of the disclaimers placed at the bottom of the ads to be targeting adults:

“Animation used. Multiple products shown. Collector case can be purchased for $4.00 from Coles Supermarkets and selected Coles Express sites”.

“Spend $30.00 in one transaction and receive a Coles Stikeez at Coles or Coles Express. Excludes eBay and UberEats purchases. While stocks last. See for full terms and conditions. Animation used. Multiple products shown.”

Additionally, the panel ruled that Stikeez qualify as a Premium, which is defined as “anything offered either free, at a reduced price, or with an additional cost and which is conditional upon the purchase of an advertised product”. As the price of the Stikeez was ruled to not be clearly advertised, and the toys were determined to be the focus of the advertisement, the ad was ruled to be in breach of the code.

The complainant was also concerned that they saw the ad prior to a YouTube video of a MA15+ rated video game.

In its response, Coles explained that its media agency, OMD, had partnered with The Disney Channel on YouTube with the intention of having the ad appear in a ‘co-viewing environment’, which is when a parent and child consumer the content together. However, Coles and the agency were unaware that the partnership also included ‘Disney Influencer’ content which can include content targeted at people over the age of 18.

The panel noted this explanation in their deliberation, but as the ad was placed in proximity to the MA15+ game, it was in breach of section 2.3 of the Children’s Code, which states: “advertising or marketing communication to children must not be placed in media where editorial comment or program content, in close proximity to that communication, or directly accessible by children as a result of the communication, is unsuitable for children according to prevailing community standards.”

The ad was pulled from YouTube as the Stikeez campaign had ended at the time of the ruling.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.