Dead Happy, the insurer, ran a paid-for Facebook post in September, which included the image of a man leaning the front of his head against a wall, accompanied by text stating “life insurance to die for”.
The profile picture was that of a laughing skull.
Complaints were raised with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), noting that it appeared to allude to depression and suicide, and challenging whether it was irresponsible and offensive.
Dead Happy defended the ad, arguing it was part of a larger campaign which included a host of peculiar images ‒ including a man wearing a panda head ‒ which had been chosen to reduce the chances of users simply scrolling past them.
It also pointed out that of the 39 words in the ad, it did not mention depression or suicide at all, and that “life insurance to die for” was simply being used as a strapline for its product.
However, this was dismissed by the ASA, which said it was “concerned” by the image choice which “created the impression that he felt isolated and was in despair”.
It continued: “In the context of an ad for life insurance – which we understood covered suicide ‒ we considered those who saw the ad were likely to associate the man’s posture as alluding to suicidal feelings.”
The ASA added that by “trivilialising” the issue of suicide and using it to promote life insurance, it was likely to “cause serious offence” and was irresponsible.
Dead Happy has been banned from using the ad again in its current form.