Advertising Standards Bureau Review of Operations 2014 - Page 30

Discrimination on the ground of disability or mental illness Although advertisers are generally careful to avoid discriminating or vilifying on the basis of disability, the Board considered some cases in 2014 and found one to be in breach of Section 2.1 on these grounds. The Board determined that a radio advertisement featuring the jingle “We won’t be beaten just like a drum next to a man with no arms” (Llewellyn Motors - 0196/14) breached Section 2.1. The Board considered the advertisement presented the loss of limbs in a negative way and noted that the reference was not a true depiction of the capacity of a person with a disability. The Board noted that reference to a disabled person does not have any relevance to the sale of vehicles. The Board viewed the use of a disability to make a joke as inappropriate and that it had the potential to make people think less of a person with a disability. A safety at work television advertisement featuring people scarred by chemicals (WorkSafe Victoria – 0062/14) attracted complaints relating to the use a disabled person as an “object of pity”. The Board considered that the depiction of a woman with damaged vision and scarring is relevant in the context of the important community awareness message the advertisement is promoting. It noted that the woman in the advertisement is depicted as engaging with her life in a positive manner, but in the Board’s view was depicted appropriately as wishing she did not have the injury and considered that the issue of disability is handled in a sensitive manner. The Board acknowledged that mental illness is a serious issue which should be treated with care. However, the Board was of the view that an advertisement promoting a hat day to raise money for mental health research (Australian Rotary Health – 0428/14) did not portray or depict material which discriminates against or vilifies a person on account of mental illness. Its view was that the most likely interpretation of the advertisement was that it was promoting a way in which to feel part of a group. Noting that the cartoon characters used in the advertisement were identifiable human-like figures, with no direct 28 resemblance to any one individual or group, and not meant to be representative of people suffering from mental illness, the Board considered that overall the complainant’s interpretation of the advertisement would be unlikely to be shared by the broad community. Discrimination against men Complaints concerning discrimination or vilification against men commonly refer to the level of acceptability the advertisement would have if roles were reversed and women were in the spotlight. The Board’s role is to consider each advertisement on its own merit and as such, addressing hypothetical alternatives is not part of its role. A series of advertisements from My Plates (including 0276/14 and 0277/14) attracted close to the highest number of complaints in 2014. Concerns ranged from the depiction of men as distasteful people who pass wind in cars and pick their noses, to concerns about sexism. The Boar