Advertising Standards Bureau Review of Operations 2014 - Page 37

The Board took a different view of an advertisement in which a woman slaps a man on the back of the head (Camel Tanks – 0491/14). In upholding complaints about the advertisement the Board noted the sound of a man being hit and his expression of pain. The Board was of the view that the sound effects were realistic and were not humorous and nor could they be considered a slap‑ stick depiction of violence. Overall the Board view was that slapping someone in response to such insignificant behaviour was not relevant to the product or service advertised. Humour and depictions of pain Advertisers should take care or reconsider using violence in advertisements if violence is not directly related to their product or service. Section 2.3 of the Code states that violence should not be presented unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised. Advertisements will sometimes use humor to minimise the impact of violence in advertising, and this is taken into account by the Board. Complaints were dismissed about a television advertisement featuring a scene where a man is hit from the side by a giant boxing glove (Horticulture Australia Ltd - 0122/14). The Board view was that the overall tone was slapstick and that the use of the boxing glove was to emphasise the ‘sugar hit’ gained from eating a donut rather than a depiction of actual violence. In the Board’s view being hit by a snowball while having a drink in a bar (Beam Suntory – 0184/14) was an unreal situation and also one which does not depict, condone or encourage alcohol fuelled violence or violence of any kind. The Board agreed the woman in the advertisement appeared to welcome the snowball, and determined that the snowball was a metaphor for the flavour of the beverage, and not an actual depiction of violence. Relevance to the product or service The provisions of the Code are specific in that violence can be portrayed only where it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised. An advertisement which depicted a person being held captive with a bag covering their head (Oporto Franchising Pty Review of Operations 2014 Ltd - 0072/14) was found to breach Section 2.3. The Board noted that the act of keeping someone captive and covering their face could be perceived by viewers as the ritualised beginnings of the torturing of the captured man and that these actions are both menacing and violent. The Board noted that the advertisement is for a restaurant and its new line of steak burgers and although the advertisement was likely to be viewed by an older audience, the portrayal of violence was not justified in the context of selling a burger. The Board view was that the advertisement had a strong suggestion of menace and presented violence in an unacceptable manner. Concerns were raised about the violence depicted in images used by a coffee company (Fresh One - 0213/14) in the form of posts on the Facebook page of the advertiser. The Board upheld complaints against each of the six posts finding them to breach the Code in relation to Sections 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6. One image was of a man about to be decapitated by a masked executioner. The Board view was that the man with his head on the wooden block looks distressed and the hovering executioner with a raised axe presents a sense of menace and violence which is not appropriate in the context of the advertised product regardless of the accompanying text. In the Board’s view the use of a domestic violence situation to depict the dangers faced by police (QLD Police Union of Employees – 0462/14) was not suggesting that all men are violent towards women. The Board view was that the scenario depicted was suggestive of violence but was relevant to the overall message and although weapons were shown, was not in breach of Section 2.3 of the Code. Movies and games Outdoor advertisements promoting video games, one featuring a central figure holding a large gun figure using a headless man (Bethesda – 0188/14), and the other with a man holding mobile phone in one hand and a gun in the other (Ubisoft P/L - 0226/14) were dismissed by the Board in 2014. In these cases, the Board view was that the images in the advertisements were relevant to the products being advertised and that the depiction of characters from the game was not a depiction that portrayed violence that was unjustifiable in the context of the product being sold. Weaponry Advertisements using images of weapons are considered under Section 2.3 of the Code. In 2014 the Board dismissed complaints where a radio advertisement featured the sound of a person falling with a thud to the ground after the sound of gunfire (Epworth Healthcare - 0229/14) and a television advertisement in which former cricket player Shane Warne is being fired at with paint balls from close range (Sportingbet Australia Pty Ltd – 0098/14). In the case of the radio advertisement the Board noted that the advertised product is a health check and considered that the suggestion made in the advertisement that people are not bullet-proof is not inappropriate in the context of health checks although noting th at there is increasing community concern surrounding gun crime. The Board’s view was that in this instance the advertisement is using a common metaphor, along with sound effects, in relation to health awareness which in the Board’s view was justifiable in the context of the advertised product. The Board noted the weapons used in the television advertisement were clearly paint ball guns and not real guns and that while Shane Warne did not enjoy the experience it was made clear that he had volunteered to be hit with paintballs as part of a bet and the consequence of this decision were clearly shown. Graphic depictions While the Board is more lenient on graphic depictions in relation to community awareness message, it is not as lenient when the advertisement is for a specific product (EBBS International - 0279/14). This advertisement from a commercial company for a life-saving product was screened in children’s viewing time. It featured statistics on the number of children who drown each year and viewers heard a splash as someone enters water followed by a woman screaming loudly with text on screen reading “Don’t let your child become another drowning statistic”. In the Board’s view the advertisement 35