Devondale glowgirl ad banned by watchdog as ‘misleading’

An ad for preservative-free Devondale Long Life Milk featuring a girl glowing in the dark has been banned by the advertising watchdog because the phrase “preservatives have consequences” “would be considered misleading by reasonable members of the community”.

devondale glowing preservatives

The ruling from the Advertising Standards Board has led to the withdrawal of the ad and its replacement with a new caption asking “What are you feeding you kids?”

devondale glowing new

The ad – which launched a month ago – is part of a range of new ads for the dairy range created by DDB Melbourne. It features the girl glowing bight green as she goes about her daily routine.

According to one complaint to the ASB: “We believe this advertisement is misleading to children because it seems to imply that preservatives make you glow green. This would confuse children and is in fact incorrect.”

Another complaint to the ASB stated: “This advertisement specifically implies that consumers should fear additives and preservatives, and goes so far as to show a girl glowing, implying that the preservatives she has consumed have caused it. This is completely ridiculous and is basically fear-mongering.”

Devondale defended the ad, telling the ASB: “The ‘Glowgirl’ TVC in question is part of a broader campaign of seven TV commercials for the Devondale brand. All spots in the TV campaign were intended to be humorous and not to be taken literally. The use of comedy and humour is consistent across all ads. Therefore, the intent of the whole campaign is to provide a light touch and engage the viewers on the basis of humour. In the ‘Glowgirl’ TVC that is noted in the complaint, the character of the girl is used for comedic effect and the clearly over the top treatment to her ‘glow’ is not to be taken seriously.”

The ad watchdog said: “The Board considered that the depiction of a girl glowing green is hyperbole and considered that members of the community would recognise that this special effect is being employed to make an exaggerated point rather than to actually suggest that consuming preservatives will make you glow green. The Board agreed that the depiction of the girl glowing green is humorous and is not a misleading depiction.

But it added: “The Board noted that the text on screen reads, “preservatives have consequences”. The Board considered that a reasonable member of the community would not consider that preservatives will have the consequence of making hair glow green. However the Board expressed some concern over the impression and likely impact of this statement.”

Indicating that not all members of the ASB panel agreed with the verdict, the watchdog said: “The majority of the Board considered that the statement ‘preservatives have consequences’ has a different effect to a mere statement that something is preservative free. The majority of the Board considered that whilst the interpretation of the meaning of the text on its own is subjective and does not suggest what the consequences are or whether they are good or bad, in the Board’s view the context of the statement being used in conjunction with an image of a girl glowing green amounts to an overall suggestion that preservatives are bad for you.”

It ruled:

“The Board considered that the overall effect of the advertisement, through the use of the phrase ‘preservatives have consequences’ in conjunction with the depiction of a girl with glowing green hair, amounts to an overall message which would be considered misleading by reasonable members of the community.”

Devondale has now launched a re-edited version of the ad:

Tim Burrowes


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