Belfast Telegraph

Chessington ad complaint rejected

Even Oscar Wilde, credited with popularising the phrase "expect the unexpected", may have struggled to convince readers that the gateway to the sprawling African plain lay within the confines of a Surrey theme park.

But an advert which featured the unlikely fantasy of meeting zebras, a giraffe, some antelopes and a rhino in their natural habitat - all while on a visit to Chessington World of Adventures - was taken literally enough for one angry mother to complain when her expectations - and those of her eight-year-old daughter - were not met.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the television advert - which showed two children waking up in bunk beds in the middle of the African wilderness to promote Chessington's Zufari ride - was unlikely to lead to children having unrealistic expectations of the ride experience.

The advert, replete with dramatic voice-over, featured exotic wildlife in their natural habitat, falling trees and caves.

The complainant, who had gone on the ride with her child, challenged whether the ad was misleading because it could lead to children having unrealistic expectations.

The ASA said it felt the advert clearly depicted a heightened sense of reality, which was evidenced from the outset when the brother and sister characters awoke in a bunk bed in the middle of an African plain with the sun rising over distant mountains.

The watchdog described the scenes as "hyperbolic", and not a literal depiction of the actual ride experience.

Customers who were quizzed on their enjoyment of the ride gave it an average 8.93 out of 10, with 76% of all respondents rating the experience a 9 or 10 out of 10.

In a report which decided not to uphold the complain, the ASA said the complainant felt the animals and setting depicted in the ad did not match her experience of the ride.

It said: "We were satisfied that the ad was visibly set in Africa and was intended to be viewed as a fantastical depiction of the experience, rather than a literal portrayal of the ride.

"We considered this depiction would be understood by children, especially as the opening scene showed the children in the ad waking from their bunk beds in the middle of the African plain.

"We were satisfied that the animals featured in the ad also featured in the ride.

"Having viewed footage of the ride that was filmed prior to its opening, we agreed that the warning to 'expect the unexpected' was justified, as the safari truck in the actual ride took a mysterious detour, as suggested in the ad - albeit without the dramatisation of the thunder and lightning."