Ad cleared after 212 complaints about boy sitting on dog

Ads for photo printing firm Photobox showing a boy sitting on a dog have been cleared following more than 200 complaints that it was harmful to the pet and potentially unsafe for all involved.

The three television ads featured scenes of a family having a barbecue in the garden and showed parents taking a picture of their young son sitting on the back of a Great Dane.

A voice-over stated: "This pleasant get together shall soon be shattered for a photo storm bruise. Mum, dad, weird cousin Brian, hold aloft your camera phones for you are about to capture gold."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and 211 other viewers complained that the ads involved a pose that was harmful to the dog and could encourage children or adults to emulate potentially unsafe behaviour for them and their pets.

Photobox said the boy and the dog were filmed completely separately so as to ensure the safety of both parties and "at no point did the boy actually sit on the dog".

The company said a qualified vet was on set for the duration of the production and attested to the welfare of the dogs, and provided the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with a copy of the certificate the vet had signed off.

The certificate referred to "Kalifa" and "Mufasa" and stated that the animals "were never placed under any risk or suffered any damage during the shooting".

The ASA said: "We acknowledged the vet's certificate provided by Photobox and (ad clearance agency) Clearcast, and were content that the two dogs used for the ad were not harmed during production.

"Because of that, we had no reason to believe the dogs used for the ad were mistreated during filming and concluded did not breach the Code."

It added: "We acknowledged that an ex-kids scheduling restriction had been applied to the ad so that it would not be shown around children's programming. We considered that this further made it unlikely for children to emulate the child sitting on the dog or come to harm as a result."