ADWATCH: PORTRAYING VIOLENCE IN ADVERTISING

iSelect Private Health Insurance

Issue:                    2.3 – Violence, weapons; 2.6 – Health and Safety Unsafe behaviour

Result:                  NOT IN BREACH

 

In this Free to air TV ad, a couple is at home, looking at their health insurance bill and clearly concerned that the average cost of premiums are going up. A talking dove interrupts them, an explosion of smoke and the dove transforms into iSelect’s “Billusionist”. He plucks the bill from the woman’s hand and magically turns it into an origami paper star bill which he throws at a spinning board, avoiding the man who’s strapped to the board. One of the paper stars lands in an apple above the man’s head. The Billusionist asks if that’s their bill and she tells him the bill is smaller.

 

Complainants’ concerns were that star shaped throwing devices were a banned, illegal weapon and questioned its use in advertising. The Panel considered that the ad was clearly fantastical and over the top, and the action of throwing the origami stars was consistent with ‘illusionist’ style magic. The act of throwing the stars was dramatic and fantastical, rather than violent or realistic. The Panel considered that the ad was resolved with the customers happy their bill was smaller and that there was no threat or menace in the ad.

The Panel noted the complainants’ concern that the ad depicts dangerous behaviour which would be unsafe for children to copy. It was noted in the advertiser’s response that the over-exaggerated scenario is highly unrealistic and unlikely to influence copy-cat behaviour. The Panel considered that the ad included a number of fantastical elements, such as the talking dove, the billusionist appearing and disappearing and the man suddenly appearing on the spinning board, and considered that such scenes added to the unrealistic nature of the ad. The Panel found that the ad did not breach Section 2.3 nor Section 2.6 of the Code.

See video here and read the report here.

 

Taste My Bean

Issue:                    2.3 – Violence

Result:                  NOT IN BREACH

 

This radio ad features a voice over stating “what you’re about to hear is true”. A woman says “well yes, I was just standing there, um, just watching and I couldn’t believe it. He used real force. He just took the tamper and the next think he just bashed the coffee down in there. Just like that. It was truly horrifying.” The voice-over says “Avoid coffee crime” and gives details of the business.

The Panel noted that this radio ad features a woman apparently reporting a crime which is revealed to be a crime against coffee. The Panel considered whether the advertisement breached Section 2.3 of the Code “Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not present or portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised”. The Panel noted the advertiser’s response that the ad describes a woman witnessing the scene as a bystander and there is no suggestion that violence has been committed against the woman. The woman in the ad does sound distressed and might be interpreted as a victim but equally that she was witness to a crime, which the ad clearly reveals to be a coffee being made incorrectly and not an act of violence. The Panel considered that the complainant’s interpretation of the ad being suggestive of a woman being bashed was an interpretation that would be unlikely to be shared by the majority of the community and dismissed the complaint.

The Panel acknowledged that some people in the community may be concerned by the distress in the woman’s voice and the use of the words ‘forced’ and ‘bashed’, however considered that the overall content of the ad did not amount to a portrayal of violence. The Panel noted that advertiser’s should take care not to suggest violence against people. Read the report here.

 

Horror movie US

Issue:                    2.3 – Violence, alarm and distress to Children

Result:                  NOT IN BREACH

 

This Free to air ad features scenes from the horror movie ‘Us’ including a family in a house being scared by figures outside and a series of scenes including a man on the beach in a mask, and a person holding scissors. The audio in the ad features the mother’s voice saying, “We need to move and keep moving. They won’t stop until they kill us, or we kill them.”

The Panel noted that this ad was for a film classified MA15+ and noted that the ad had received a J rating from CAD meaning that it “may be broadcast at any time of day, except during P and C programs or adjacent to P or C periods. Exercise care when placing in programs principally directed to children.” The Panel noted the advertiser’s response that the advertisements were played at a time appropriate to the J rating. The complainants had viewed it during shows including ‘Young Sheldon’, ‘Married at First Sight’ and ‘The Project’.

The Panel considered that the ad did not contain any violent acts or graphic scenes and that there was no images of gore or wounds. The music and sound-effects in the ad did however create a level of menace.

The majority of the Panel considered that the ad is suspenseful rather than graphic but noted that some scenes in conjunction with the audio background may be frightening for children. The ad was for a horror film and therefore horror themes were relevant to the product. The majority of the Panel considered that there is no specific violence in the ad and the horror themes in the advertisement are mild, and justifiable in the context of advertising a horror movie.

See video here and read the report here.

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