A commercial for Heinz Baked Beans has been banned from broadcast TV in the U.K. because it allegedly encourages dangerous behavior in children.
The "Can Song" spot by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London, echoing the "Cup Song" made popular by Anna Kendrick in the movie "Pitch Perfect," has pulled in more than 311 million views online with its elaborate percussive routine with a can and a catchy tune.
"We all need love, that simple love, and we are whole again," sing children, teenagers and adults as they drum out a rythm on empty tin cans. The ad ends with a call to "Learn the #CanSong."
The Advertising Standards Authority regulatory agency received complaints that the behavior in the ad would be dangerous for children to emulate because open cans can have razor-sharp edges.
While the actors in the spot are clearly unharmed and well-rehearsed at flipping and tapping the cans, the ASA judged that consumers who tried the "Can Song" at home were "unlikely to be as proficient as the actors" and mistakes could be made with an empty can.
Heinz told the ASA that the ads were not aimed specifically at children. The company also pointed out that consumers had created their own video versions of the "Can Song" and uploaded them onto social media sites without causing any harm.
But the ASA decided against Heinz, ruling that the spot could not be broadcast again. "We considered there was a health and safety risk [in recreating the "Can Song"] particularly if a child was to attempt to play the song with an empty tin without adult supervision," it said in a statement.
U.K. ads are cleared ahead of broadcast by a company called Clearcast, but the Advertising Standards Authority investigates if it receives complaints from the public after they have been shown on TV or online.
"Can Song" could still run on Heinz's social media sites, where Heinz can provide a safety message advising consumer to tape up tins before they get started.
"We believe this popular ad did not pose any safety risk and many fans were inspired to create their own video versions," Nigel Dickie, director, corporate and government affairs Europe at The Kraft Heinz Company, said in an email. "Of course safety is our number one priority and our online tutorials also included taping the can end as an extra precaution. Although we acknowledge the ASA decision the TV campaign is over and we have no plans to run it again."