The folks at Hyundai aren’t the only ones spitting chips at the news that their Santa Fe TV commercial depicting a nappy-clad baby behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive has been pulled because it could encourage copy cat behaviour. In its February meeting, the Advertising Standards Bureau also pulled an ad for nasal spray to treat premature ej-culation set to the tune of “Jingle Bells” and another series of radio ads for a gym which used the phrase “fat ar-e”.

There’s a lot of moral outrage out there, and it can cost companies millions of dollars if an ad is pulled off air. And it only takes one valid complaint from a member of the public. According to ASB stats, females are more easily offended than males, NSW are the biggest whingers, and ads depicting food products top the list of complaints. Vehicle ads come in second. And by far and away the majority of complaints are about s-x and nudity, followed by discrimination

But for every complaint that the ASB upholds, there are hundreds of complaints that are dismissed each year. Here’s a snapshot of complaints from February from people with very delicate sensibilities (and vivid imaginations):

  • Totally Workwear Clothing:  This radio advertisement features a woman’s voice saying “Okay, out you come lads”, followed by the sound of a zip and the comment “Mmm..not too bad Stu – nice work.” The woman continues “Darren…” and the sound of another zip is heard “…Mmmm…could be a bit small Daz”, and “Keith…” as another zip is heard with the comment “Oh – tad big but I think it should be fine”. A male voiceover concludes “Totally Workwear – where size really does matter” followed by a wolf whistle.

THE COMPLAINT: Morally it sends an offensive message to all males. On discriminatory grounds, if the ad suggested to the size of female g-nitalia it would be regarded as offensive. This ad would send a message that would (NOT MIGHT) contribute to teenage depression and suicide (of males). COMPLAINT DISMISSED.

  • China Tea Club Restaurant: This radio advertisement begins with the sound effect of a blade falling as a crowd cheers and a voice is heard to say “Next”. This is repeated again. The next time the voice calls “Next” a second male voice is heard to plead “Excuse me, do you mind if we wait a moment? I’m very sorry, it’s just that I’ve ordered Chinese takeaway from the China Tea Club and the China Tea House. It should be here any minute…they deliver to most areas of Canberra you know”. A voiceover announces “The China Tea Club in Lyneham and the China Tea House in Erindale, dine in or takeaway…you’ve got to try it even if it’s the last thing you do”. The sound of a blade falling and a cheer, follows.

THE COMPLAINT: I find this ad repugnant and feel nauseated when it comes on as they are trivialising the death penalty and making violence “funny”. COMPLAINT DISMISSED.

  • Carlton & United Breweries Ltd (Stella Artois – circus): This television advertisement is set in what appears to be rural Europe as a man with a pig on a leash strolls down a road and comes across a circus performance in a small village. Inspired by the lions jumping through fiery hoops he returns to his farm and attempts to train the pig to imitate the tricks… Later, visiting the village with the pig, the man passes a tavern where he espies a glass of Stella Artois beer being served to a patron. Checking his pockets to confirm he has no money the man looks at the pig, then the beer and seems torn. In the next scene we see the man enjoying a glass of the beer as the innkeeper writes on the menu board the day’s special “Cote du Porc”…

THE COMPLAINT: 1. The man forms a relationship with the piglet as a pet, and then has pet slaughtered. 2. This advert sends the message that alcohol is more important than life. 3. This advert sends a message that animal welfare is a joke… COMPLAINT DISMISSED.

  • Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd (pie chart): This television advertisement features Sam Kekovich stating “Men and women of Australia. This is a recipe for unAustralianism”. A “pie chart” is shown with 9/10ths of the area covered with cabbage (and labelled Greens) and one lamp chop (representing the Australia Day Party). Sam continues “And this is my recipe for a better Australia” as the pie chart is changed to show nine lamb chops and only 1/10th of the chart with cabbage…

THE COMPLAINT: It is discrimination that this man puts a section of the public in a category, making a joke out of people life choices. I take it as a direct insult. It is bad enough to see animal body parts being advertised as food, let’s cut the negative brainwashing and encourage a healthy and intelligent nation. The ad implies that voters and members of the Australian Greens political party are “un-Australian.” Discriminates against or vilifies a section of the community on the basis of political belief. COMPLAINT DISMISSED

  • Nestle Ice Cream (Peters Drumstick): …we see a multitude of couples arriving at a public swimming pool and placing towels in rows on the ground to sit on. As they sit, the couples reach for sun tan cream and all automatically begin smearing it on the back of the person in front of them, then reversing to do the same for those behind. The women then line up alongside the pool as the men take the other side, then all jump into the water together, surfacing in neat rows. Back ashore, the swimmers are seen to adjust the bottoms of their costumes, tap their heads as if to remove waters from their ears and flap their hands to shoo away flies….

THE COMPLAINT:  This shows a row of girls in bikini costumes obviously uncomfortable with the rear of the bikini in their private parts…I think it is disgusting the way these girls have to almost penetrate their r-ctum to release the garment from their rear end. COMPLAINT DISMISSED.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey