Readers of www.farmersjournal.ie criticised the ad on the comments section of our Facebook link to the story of the farmer in Co Tyrone who died after an incident with a bull this week.
One man asked why the Vodafone ad was encouraging people to enter a field with the bull, with another reader agreeing with him, saying it was a “disgraceful” advert.
“I suffered but survived a serious bull attack seven years ago and still have health problems. That ad should be scrapped,” she wrote.
We would strongly advise against bringing a dog into a field with a bull as it can in fact encourage an attack
The ad, below, launched by Vodafone on 22 April, depicts a couple on a first date who decide to jump over a gate into a field to set up a picnic.
On being approached by the bull, the man fails to help because he has no signal on his phone and therefore cannot search the internet for “how to calm a bull”. His date, on the other hand, presumably because she is covered by Vodafone 4G, manages to find a video of a barking dog on her phone, which does the trick.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) issued a statement on the ad to the Irish Farmers Journal, saying that far from discouraging an attack, a dog can actually encourage an attack.
“Risks from livestock, either bulls or cows, is not material for a joke," the HSA said. "Unfortunately, just this past weekend a Co Tyrone farmer was killed by a bull. We continue to advise extreme caution for those working with bulls or anyone who might encounter one by accident. In addition to this we would strongly advise against bringing a dog into a field with a bull as it can in fact encourage an attack.”
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These safety issues have been raised with Vodafone by viewers on its own social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook. A viewer left a comment on Vodafone’s twitter feed, saying “people have been trampled to death by walking their dogs though fields of cattle – not a safe message”.
It is quite possibly one of the stupidest and possibly dangerous advertisements I’ve seen on TV
A comment left on Vodafone’s Facebook page read: “I’m just after watching your power to picnic advertisement and it is quite possibly one of the stupidest and possibly dangerous advertisements I’ve seen on TV. Who thought up the idea? Did they realise that a barking dog noise would actually get the bull to attack people? They should know that a huge number of people don’t know how to react around cattle especially bulls and your advertisement has just informed them they should take out their phones and send a barking noise towards an animal that has the power to kill them.”
Vodafone Ireland responded to our request for a comment by saying: "Vodafone Ireland’s recent network ad was designed to share, in a light-hearted manner, the power of the Vodafone network and that you can rely on the network even in unusual locations and situations. Vodafone is aware of concerns expressed by some viewers and of the concerns expressed by the HSA. While Vodafone take these concerns seriously and is in communication with the HSA as well as those who have contacted us, we would like to reassure viewers that the ad is intended to be a humorous depiction of an imaginary, accidental occurrence and the company is not advising anyone to knowingly enter into a dangerous situation involving livestock. We are currently reviewing the campaign in light of the concerns that have been raised."
The company has since made the ad private and pulled it from its social media channels.