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TV & Radio

Jan 23, 2013

Advertising board doesn't love Dick: Smith fights 'censorship'

A funny ad promoting Dick Smith Foods has been rejected for early-evening broadcast by the Advertising Standards Board. The entrepreneur says he'll fight the attempt at censorship.


Entrepreneur Dick Smith is fuming an ad for his all-Aussie food company that plays on his famous moniker has been rejected by the TV ratings agency for prime-time broadcast. And he’s told Crikey he’ll go to the High Court to fight the attempt at “censorship”.

The ad posted to video hosting sites — produced by TV comedian Dan Ilic for $10,000 — features a cast of characters from farmers to boat people exclaiming their love of “Dick”. One nanna states: “There’s only one Dick I’ll be eating on Australia Day.”

Smith booked $100,000 in air time from the TV networks to broadcast the ad during 6pm news bulletins on Australia Day. But FreeTV’s Commercials Advice agency, or CAD, gave the one-minute spot a PG rating — not the G rating needed for early-evening programming.

“Apparently you can’t have lovely old ladies saying ‘dick’,” Smith said this morning after hearing of the decision, fresh from a business trip to China.

Smith says he’s talking to lawyers about what can be done. He’s not prepared to censor the “completely harmless” ad or air it later in the evening.

“I’m angry. I don’t like things being censored when it’s just good fun,” he said. Of CAD he said: “I think there’s something wrong with them.”

Smith, fed up with the mileage Sam Kekovich was getting for his dinky di ads promoting lamb, approached TV guru Andrew Denton to have the Chaser crew make a similar ad. Denton connected Smith with Ilic, who has worked on the Denton-produced Can Of Worms and Hungry Beast.

Ilic wrote on his blog yesterday:

“I got a call from Dick Smith out of the blue just before Christmas. ‘Dan, I got your number from Andrew Denton, I want to make an ad.’ Why not? He’s an Australian legend. Sounds like fun.

“So I wrote the funniest script I thought I could muster on our tiny $10k budget. Then convinced Dick that it’d be fine to run with the innuendo and the boat people joke. (Which is my favourite considering Dick’s stance on population control.)

“So we shot it in two day (sic), and after another four days in post … and thought it was pretty funny. There was one group that didn’t think it was funny. The CAD approval people.”

Ilic says Smith was “furious, incredibly upset”. He posted a barrage of texts he received from the former Australian of the Year:

But Smith told Crikey it’s not Ilic but the people who decided the rating for the ad he wants to fight.

It’s the latest in a series of stunts Smith has pulled to promote his branded grocery products against the foreign-owned food giants. The non-profit enterprise donates profits to charity.

CORRECTION: An original version of this story stated the decision to classify advertisements came from the Advertising Standards Board. Classification of advertising material is actually performed by FreeTV’s Commercials Advice (CAD) service. The Advertising Standards Board had no role in classifying the Dick Smith material.


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21 thoughts on “Advertising board doesn’t love Dick: Smith fights ‘censorship’

  1. Serenatopia

    It really is such a funny advertisement—and I am very supportive of 100% Australian-Made products and Dick Smith—

    The issue, however, is whether the advertisement is appropriate for early-evening broadcast. While the advertisement is harmless adult fun…it is loaded with sexual innuendo!

    I do think that the Advertising Standards Board gets it wrong on other advertisements loaded with sexual innuendo that do get an early-evening broadcast…but, irrespective, of their inconsistencies, they may have got it right here!

    If the intent was to capture a wide audience, then Dick Smith should have thought twice about hiring Ilic. Ilic is limited by a style tailored for comedy and late night adult viewing. He should have perhaps declined Smith’s offer.

    A word of advice to Dick Smith—don’t waste your time going to the High Court mate—invest another $10,0000 in an advertisement tailored for early-evening viewing…(you really can’t tinker with the current advertisement because it is loaded with sexual and political innuendo). You would be smarter if you use this strategy—one further suggestion—you can hire me to make that ad for you!

  2. Raphael Cocks

    Dear Crikey. The video appears to be ‘private’.

  3. Raphael Cocks

    Also does this mean I would never be allowed to have my own brand of foods, given my similar name to Mr Smith?

  4. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Seranatopia, I take it that you wouldn’t personally object to seeing the ad at 6pm – you just wouldn’t want to be sitting with your mother or perhaps your grandchild at the time? Is saying the word ‘Dick’ during an ad on commercial free to air TV really such a big deal?

  5. Roger Colclough

    Why not pick on the blatant innuendo in the Pork ads then?

  6. Monash.edu

    Not quite sure why Smith’s insisting on playing violins here. It’s not like the ASB have a vendetta against him — he simply financed an ad that pushed the boundaries of acceptability in a G-rated time-slot and overstepped the mark.

    Surely he’s a little old for ‘dick’ jokes? To be fair, I guess he would have heard a few in his time…

  7. drmick

    I want to market Dickens Cider, but do you think anyone will touch that.
    I dont like dick. I am not a mans man; but I think there is definitely a double standard & just who or what are they trying to protect?

  8. zut alors

    The mistake was not setting the text to rap music – it seems to me that strong language and obscenities can go to air in any timeslot on radio or in TV video programmes if they are rapped.

    I recall a self-deprecating and highly amusing full page ad Dick Smith placed in the Nation Review back in the 1980s. He has form for getting public attention, good on him.

  9. klewso

    Or the lamb ads?
    Of our Olympians “porking” each other?

  10. klewso

    Starring that bloke with the broken leg – “Limp Dick”?

  11. Matt Hardin

    The boat people joke was in poor taste and the rest quite puerile. After Hungry Beast, I expected more from Dan Ilic; unless there was a deliberate betrayal by “ABC Chaser Lefties” …

  12. Scott

    Pure stunt marketing by the “House of DS”

  13. K.D. Afford

    I think he should have used Richard, or Mr. Parker before being so blatantly funny. Our world is now too mature for an off hand, or even hedonistic sense of humour.

  14. AR

    It’s hard enough to find DS foods on the shelves but, without exception, I find them sugar laden, from peanut butter to ozemite to… everything.

  15. Pedantic, Balwyn

    What a complete and pathetic bunch are the dictators of what we watch on the telly.

    I certainly don’t agree with all of Dick Smith’s viewpoints, but undeniably his heart’s in the right place and that place is Australia.

    There is nothing in the ad that won’t be heard in most Australian homes every day. Nothing that would offend my granny, who has more spunk than most of the PC mob trying to dictate how we behave.

    Good on you Dick. I didn’t know that you gave your profits to charity, but it will be a big factor in the purchasing decisions of this household in the future.

  16. Salamander

    Well spotted dick is Pommie food, so that’s funny.

  17. Person Ordinary

    Dick has to feign the outrage to get the media suckers to push the story along – free coverage – all part of the ploy. A bit of fun, but PG is about right …

  18. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    Didn’t we have a turkey slap all over TV at some point?

  19. Brad

    Is a double entendre a double entendre when someone doesn’t get it? If the viewer doesn’t get it, what harm is done? If the viewer does get it, then it isn’t anything new. Of course, it could lead to an uncomfortable question ‘Daddy, what did she mean?’…

  20. Mark Errey

    @Person Ordinary you are spot on. Dick does not produce anything, these brands are just someone else’s product with his mug slapped over the top. What Dick does is promote Dick Smith, that is his only brand and he flogs it mercilessly. This whole confected furore is just part of his marketing strategy, don’t buy it! I’ll never forget how years ago he got Australian Geographic started with lots of volunteer assistance and donations from the public, then when it was up an running he flogged it off and kept the proceeds!


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