The Advertising Standards Authority has released its annual report for 2010 and in it are the ten ads that riled New Zealanders the most.
A total of 1164 complaints were received regarding advertising in this country in all forms including TV, which again featured as the medium where most complaints were directed.
Below is the list of the ten most complained about advertisements for 2010 in all forms.
1. Erotica Expo Outdoor Advertisement
71 Complaints – Upheld
A mobile billboard that advertised the erotica lifestyles expo was towed around the streets of central Auckland. The billboard contained an image of a woman’s naked pelvic area covered with a halved melon. The woman’s finger was positioned inside the melon.
Complainants felt that the image, which simulated a woman with her fingers in her vagina, was indecent, offensive, discriminatory and “dehumanising” – reducing women to their genitalia.
In the Complaints Board’s view, the public and highly visible campaign, was intended to cause maximum outrage and receive maximum exposure with the associated ripple effect of media and public attention.
The Board said the advertisement not only offended against generally prevailing community standards, it was also unanimous in the view that the advertisement was degrading to women.
2. ASB Bank Television Advertisement
39 Complaints – Not Upheld
No Ordinary Risk and Reward – Is it appropriate for a bank to loan money for IVF treatment?
This television advertisement depicted the story of a couple’s attempts to have a baby. The man sells his vintage car to fund a round of IVF treatment, which is also unsuccessful. The man applied for a loan with ASB to continue the IVF treatment which resulted in the woman giving birth to triplets.
Complainants found the advertisement offensive for many reasons, among them that the television advertisement exploited a vulnerable group; was socially irresponsible; and promoting the accumulation of debt to start a family is not productive in an era that encourages saving. The majority of the Complaints Board found that the spirit and the intent of the advertisement was one of hope and renewed opportunity for people seeking another round of IVF treatment rather than one of exploitation, and like many financial matters, there was risk and reward and the advertisement had shown both unsuccessful and successful outcomes of IVF.
The majority reiterated that the Advertiser was entitled to promote the possibility of financial assistance to fund IVF treatment to consumers and that the advertisement, despite the emotive elements involved, was not exploitative, nor misleading.
Bus & Billboard Advertisement
24 Complaints – Settled
The Condom Conundrum – Are Condom Advertisements Offensive?
The advertisement for Durex® condoms, which appeared on the back of buses and on billboards, featured a naked man and a woman in an embrace.
Complainants were of the view that the advertisement was offensive and especially inappropriate in such a public forum where children could see it.
The Advertiser said while it was not their intention to embarrass or offend anyone, they felt that informing consumers about Durex® condoms and condom usage encourages safe sex practices and therefore was a health benefit that served the public interest.
However, in light of the complaints, the Advertiser agreed to remove the advertisement from the buses and billboards.
4. Fresh-Up Television Advertisement
17 Complaints – Not Upheld
Bad Rub for Thirsty Masseur
The television advertisement portrayed a man being massaged by a male masseur. Because the masseur is thirsty, his lips stick to his gums, exposing his teeth and making him sound odd.
The masseur’s expression and the way he sounded made the man on the table uncomfortable and he looks around at the masseur who told the man: “You just try and relax, if you can”. At the end of the scene the words “Thirst is Creepy” were superimposed on the screen. Complainants thought the advertisement made a joke out of sexual harassment.
The Complaints Board agreed that the massage scenario was uncomfortable to watch and was somewhat “creepy”. However, it also said that the focus on the masseur’s mouth was rather obscure and the message about him being thirsty was not immediately apparent. While the Complaints Board acknowledged that the advertisement presented a quirky incident in keeping with the “creepy” theme of the advertisement, it did not consider that it contained the sexual behaviour or implications suggested by the Complainants.
5. Whittakers Television Advertisement
16 Complaints – Not Upheld
Chocolate Lovers’ Naked Dip Doesn’t Cause Offence
The television advertisement showed a naked dark skinned male and a naked pale skinned female jumping into pools of chocolate and peppermint from rope swings. After they met at the side of the pools, the female runs her finger across the peppermint covered chest of the male and licks it. The male runs his finger across the chocolate covered cheek of the female and licks it.
Complainants said that it was inappropriate to see two naked people in an advertisement when children were watching while others objected to the way the couple touched each other and raised issues relating to the timing of the advertisement as well as its suggestiveness and overtly sexual content.
The Complaints Board said that the advertisement had been carefully created to ensure that any nude views had been fleeting and not gratuitous and it unanimously agreed the advertisement was not likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
Addressing the concerns of the Complainants about the times the advertisement had played, the Complaints Board noted that the advertisement had been given a GXC rating which was defined as: “General Except Children”. The Board also agreed that the Advertiser had taken care to ensure the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.
6. Tui Website Advertisement
15 Complaints – Settled
Tui Settle Complaints About Website Advertisements
The Tui website advertisement featured a woman standing dressed only in her lacy underpants. She had her arm covering her right breast and the viewer could see part of her breast. The text which read “DISTRACTING THE BOYS FROM THE TASK AT THE HAND SINCE 1889” featured at the bottom of the advertisement.
Complainants objected that the advertisements were sexually provocative.
Two other Tui website advertisements (10/620 and 10/621) that also featured scantily-dressed women drew 15 complaints each. The Advertiser, DB Breweries Limited, said that the user-generated copy appeared on the “live” website as a result of a computer error and that “live” access is not normally available for material deemed inappropriate. Once the Advertiser was made aware of the error, access to the images on the website was immediately blocked. All three complaints were settled, as of the advertisements had been removed.
7. Burger King Television Advertisement
13 Complaints – Not Upheld
Vegetarians’ Beef With Burger King
Burger King promoted the “Rebel Burger” with images of the product on-screen and the voiceover which said: “The Rebel, from Burger King. Onion Rings, cheese, smoky barbeque sauce and a 100% chicken breast fillet. It’s so good, even the most dedicated vegetarian could turn.”
Complainants thought that the advertisement belittled vegetarianism. They stated that they were vegetarian for ethical reasons, and were offended by the Advertiser’s implication that ‘committed vegetarians’ could be swayed by their product, and found the reference to vegetarians offensive, insulting and discriminatory.
The Complaints Board noted the strong objections to the wording from the Complainants and their sincere concerns that their choice to be a vegetarian was being undermined and vegetarians overall were being insulted by such a statement. However, the Board noted the actual wording in the advertisement which said “It’s so good, even the most dedicated vegetarian could turn” and agreed that the advertisement had used a level of humour and satire to exaggerate the desirability of a food product, with a sense of the ridiculous. While recognising the advertisement had been offensive to the Complainants, the Complaints Board ruled that the advertisement was not reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence to vegetarians.
8. DB Export Beer Television Advertisement
13 Complaints – Not Upheld
Historical Context Saves Morton’s quote
The television advertisement for DB Export Beer was about Finance Minister Sir Arnold Nordmeyer’s infamous ‘Black Budget’ and the introduction by Morton Coutts of DB Export Beer in response to the tax. The advertisement featured a screen-shot at the end of the advertisement with the text “LET NOTHING COME BETWEEN A MAN AND A GREAT BEER.”
Complainants said that the advertisement had an “unduly masculine theme” and was thus in breach of the Code for Advertising Liquor.
The Complaints Board accepted the Advertiser’s explanation that the story speaks of Morton’s vision to ensure great quality beer was affordable again to all New Zealanders It noted that the advertisement was about an era that was celebrating when drinking in a public bar closed at 6pm and as such, the advertisement was the Advertiser’s account of the events that took place at that time.
The Board further acknowledged that beer had a predominate appeal to men and there was a level of acceptance that advertisements about beer would be more likely appeal to men rather than implying unduly masculine themes.
9. Hampsta Radio Advertisement
12 Complaints – Upheld
Radio Jingle Jangles
The radio advertisement for Hampsta featured a child-like cartoon voice singing a jingle, which included encouraged listeners to join the Hampsta savings scheme. The jingle included the line:
“But now my mum’s joined Hampsta cause it’s the smartest way to save a little bit each week to pay for Christmas Day. Now when we get to Christmas life won’t be a bitch. I get heaps of toys and food cause we’ll be Hampsta rich.”
Complainants said they were shocked to hear the word “bitch” in the advertisement.
The majority of the Complaints Board were of the view that the child-like voice and rhyming jingle style of the advertisement would have evident appeal to children who heard the advertisement and noted the concerns about the normalising of such expletives. The Board noted that the word “bitch” was in the 2009 survey “The Acceptability of Words on Television and Radio“ undertaken by the Broadcasting Standards Authority and that 26% of the people surveyed had found it offensive. The majority of the Complaints Board ruled that the advertisement did not observe a due sense of social responsibility
10. Sanitarium Weetbix Television Advertisement
12 Complaints – Upheld
Challenges Around Controlled Conditions Filming
The television advertisement for Weet-bix showed a group of children snowboarding down the mountain and then long-boarding through fields and paddocks, then skate-boarding and biking on the open road and around a blind corner.
Some of the children were on both sides of the road at various times. A safety message was featured at the bottom centre of the screen for part of the scene which read “Filmed on closed roads under controlled conditions”.
Complainants were shocked and disturbed to see children skateboarding in the middle of a road on a bend and said the size of the warning on the screen that stated the scene was “filmed on a closed road under controlled conditions” was too small and unlikely to be noticed by a child or young person.
The Complaints Board said that the depiction of the children skate-boarding on the open road was realistic, achievable by children, and showed an unsafe practice that children may try to re-enact. The Complaints Board was of the view that the safety message, even in light of the amended version, was insufficient given the realistic depiction of the scene and the risk of copy-cat behaviour by young viewers. Therefore, the Board was of the view that the advertisement had not been prepared with a high standard of social responsibility.
See the full report here.