Mother upset after advertisement seems to target children

A Veneta mom said she was offended after a commercial for e-cigarettes came on while her toddler was watching a children's program on television.

Posted: Apr. 18, 2018 7:18 AM

VENETA, Ore -- KEZI 9 News sat down with a Veneta mother after she was upset over a television commercial. Jennifer Sennet Franklin said her family recently purchased a new SmartTV, which has a built-in streaming service. The programs from this service appear as part of the regular channel lineup on the TV.

Franklin said her 4-year-old son was watching a children's program when an advertisement came on for e-cigarettes. She said it appeared very colorful, with accompanying music, and believes it was trying to target children. She said she was in shock after seeing the commercial, "I turned on the TV and it was just nursery rhymes and I turned my back for a moment and you're trying to sell my 4-year-old an e-cigarette."

She said she was offended and could not believe how the advertisement was attempting to be so visually appealing. "My son is on the autistic spectrum and he's very into very visual things. I didn't notice him noticing it but I feel like they're definitely trying to aim at children and kind of get these images into their heads," said Franklin. She added, "I was so offended by it that I did a Facebook post just kind of to vent and several people had seen the commercials as well and commented on you know 'why are we aiming these at children?' It's not okay to aim the tobacco products at children so why would we want them to get addicted to this other substance." 

The company that sells the e-cigarettes is called Vuse Ciro. In order to access their website and make purchases, you must certify that you are 21-years-old. However, the root of the issue stems from the streaming service on Franklin's SmartTV, which comes from a feature called Channel Plus. Channel Plus is run by a company called XUMO, which is responsible for what advertisements run on the streaming service's channels.

KEZI 9 News contacted XUMO about Franklin's incident. In a statement, XUMO CEO Colin Petrie-Norris said:

"Last week, we discovered an ad on our automated system that was placed by an authorized ad agency partner in violation of our advertising security policy. We deeply regret this error and apologize for any inconvenience or concern this may have caused our valued viewers. The ad was miscategorized by the agency, which led it to be able to bypass security protocols and appear on one of our family-friendly channels. Upon learning of this breach, we rapidly blocked the violating brand from our network and suspended the agency that miscategorized the ad from our partner list.

As a digital advertising platform, we work with agencies to schedule ads similar to how many digital media platforms work. The nature of our business and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) model relies heavily on an automated process. Given what occurred last week, we have expanded our resources and conducted full manual review of this situation to avoid a similar situation from ever happening again.

XUMO is a young emerging firm committed to an ongoing and positive relationship with our viewers — especially parents and their children. We understand the responsibility we have to ensure we create a consistent, positive and safe viewing experience for consumers of all ages. It is critical that we maintain our viewer's trust and have and will continue to take the necessary security measures to ensure that happens consistently in the future."

Oregon Health Authority will hold a public meeting to review the Oregon Revised Statute 431A.175, which states that it is unlawful to distribute, sell or allow to be sold an inhalant delivery system (e-cigarette) that is packaged in a manner that is attractive to minors. The meeting will take place on April 27 from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Portland State Office Building.

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