AANA brings you recent rulings from the Advertising Standards Board to see the AANA Codes in Action – what’s in breach, what’s not – and why. This month’s issue looks at using religious themes in ads and depictions that might be contrary to prevailing community standards for health and safety. In addition, the Advertising Standards Board considered a complaint about an ad for an upcoming art prize featuring inappropriate language.
Issue: Discrimination or Vilification, Religion; Violence
Result: IN BREACH
This poster depicted an image of a cross with a hand nailed to it with accompanying text referring to a special on piercings.
In the Board’s view, the use of the image of a hand being nailed to a cross to promote body piercing services trivialises and mocks the significance of the crucifixion. The use of the term “get nailed” in large font in the centre of the image was demeaning and further adds to the trivialisation of an important part of the Christian faith. Overall the ad depicted material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of religion breaching Section 2.1 of the Code.
Additionally, it was noted that piercings and tattooing in general do not cause to the depicted level of blood loss and the portrayal of a hand wounded in this way had no relevance to the service being promoted. The overall image and words amounted to a depiction of violence that is not justifiable in the context of the service advertised and breached section 2.3 of the Code. Read the report.
Issue: Inappropriate Language
Result: IN BREACH
This ad consisted of a series of large banners (approximately 300cm x 100cm) along the front glass windows of Moran House, Bridge St, Sydney. The banners were promoting the annual Moran Prizes competition and exhibition. Only one panel was the subject of complaint. It featured a man at a polling booth wearing speedos with ‘pussy magnet’ written across the back.
The Board noted the use of the phrase, ‘Pussy Magnet’ which can be used as a slang term for a woman’s vagina and considered that the phrase ‘pussy magnet’ is a colloquial phrase used to describe something which attracts women. The image was used because it is a finalist in an Art competition and a minority of the Board considered that this context makes the phrase ‘pussy magnet’ less offensive. A majority of the Board noted the placement of the ad in a street-facing window and a previously upheld complaint about an outdoor advertisement which featured the word ‘pussy’.
In the current ad, the majority of the Board noted that while ‘pussy’ has a number of meanings, in the context of a statement written on the back of a man’s speedos the intended interpretation is clearly that of attracting women, not cats or timid people. In the Board’s view this is sexualised language which most members of the community would find offensive and is not appropriate for a broad audience, which would include children. Read the report.
Issue: Health and Safety – within prevailing community standards;
Result: NOT IN BREACH
Watch the ad here.
This TVC shows a man returning to his office after having a flu shot at Chemist Warehouse. His office is open-plan and is full of people who are showing signs of the flu – coughing, blowing noses, sneezing – but the man doesn’t look concerned. He takes a tissue and hold it up to a male colleague’s nose, takes the phone off a female colleague and holds it against his own ear and then high fives a third colleague. A male voiceover says, “Be this confident. Arm yourself with a flu vaccination from Chemist Warehouse”.
Complaints included that “the implication is you can be protected from infection if you have a flu injection. Flu immunisation does not protect you totally from all types of cold infections.”
Following considerable discussion, the majority of the Board considered that while the behaviour of the main character in the ad does not promote caution around un-well people, the exaggerated behaviour of the main characters is highlighting an important public health message. The Board considered that the overall primary message is that of the importance of getting a flu vaccination in order to minimise your risk of contracting the flu. It was noted that there are government campaigns highlighting the need for good hygiene and the effectiveness of the flu jab, including how long before the vaccine starts to work, and considered that most members of the community would be familiar with this and would not view the current advertisement to be suggesting that best practice be ignored. Read the report.
Issue: Health and Safety Within prevailing Community Standards
Result: NOT IN BREACH
This TVC shows a child playing while the mother says it is sometimes hard to know what to give your child for pain relief. An animated sequence shows liquid being poured into a tablet shape. The mother talks about the convenience of taking the chewables, which are easy to swallow and can be taken without water and the benefit of this format for older children of 7+ years.
Complainants’ concerns included that the ad depicts medicine in a manner which suggests it is chewy caramel and therefore could encourage children to treat them as lollies, and that a child is seen releasing helium balloons which is harmful to the environment and to animals.
The Board considered that the ad makes it clear that the mother is talking about a chewable form of pain relief for children and even if children were to think that the advertised product was a lolly, this product is not for sale to children and responsible adults will ensure that all medication is kept out of the reach of children.
The Board acknowledged that there is a level of community concern around the biodegradability of balloons as well as the potential dangers to wildlife ingesting pieces of balloons. The Board noted however that its role is to reflect Prevailing Community Standards, not to set them. Laws around releasing helium balloons differ across each state and territory across Australia, for example in NSW it is an offence to release twenty or more balloons at the same time. In the current ad, the balloons the girl is playing with are attached to a rope and given that the girl is depicted playing throughout the ad, the overall suggestion is that the girl is playing with the balloons, not releasing them. Read the report.
Have you signed up to the Ad Standards Bulletin? This monthly bulletin provides updates on recent determinations, complaint statistics and other interesting complaint handling happenings. It’s a useful tool for staying up to date with community standards in advertising. You can sign up at adstandards.com.au