Ad board decides Westpac ad used gay stereotype but did not breach rules

A Westpac Bank ad featuring a camp male couple talking about slow payments has been cleared by the Ad Standards Board of complaints that it used gay stereotypes.

One complaint to the ASB said: “The two characters were being portrayed as gay men with horrible stereotypes that inaccurately portray gay people and is both inaccurate and offensive to gay men.”

Westpac defended the ad, claiming it was popular with the gay community.

It said: “Since launch, we have had some resounding positive feedback, with very high preliminary awareness and recognition figures especially from the gay community who have embraced the humour and its intent and congratulated Westpac on our depiction of these characters.”

The ASB ruled that the ad – among the first work for Westpac by its new agency Lavender – did not breach advertising rules. It said: “The Board agreed that the men are represented in part in a stereotypically effeminate manner but they are also represented as business owners. The Board considered that the men are presented in a manner which, although somewhat stereotypical, focuses on their frustration as business owners and is not negative.”


    Advertisers use stereotypes all the time — “women,” “soccer moms,” “pierced/tattooed delivery guys,” “college-educated businessmen,” etc. The only reason Westpac’s ad is getting any attention is because it deals in gay stereotypes.

  1. In stereo type
    31 Jan 11
    11:52 am

  2. Jeffry,

    You’re right mate, everyone does get stereotyped. And to a degree I also think, ‘oh stop whinging, everyone cops it’ – all granny’s aren’t senile pilots of motorised wheelchairs either, but you know, it’s kind of funny and stuff.

    I suppose the difference when we’re talking about this distinct minority in the community and they are a minority, is that soccer mums, and tattoo delivery guys are afforded (at least in Australia) all basic human rights as citizen of a democracy.

    The continued perpetuation of this stereotype sadly lumps queer men into one big basket that makes it easier for everyone else to sit by and blindly allow our governments to treat them as second class human beings.

    And we socially minded left of centre advertising folk passively sit around thinking, “hey man, I don’t care if you’re gay, big whoop. Why even make an issue about it?”

    If we ignore the issue, will it go away?

  3. stu
    31 Jan 11
    12:26 pm

  4. It was lift from the movie “Best in Show” – nothing very original about it.

  5. Cheerage
    31 Jan 11
    12:38 pm

  6. is that alex perry on the left?

  7. Iggy & The Stooges
    31 Jan 11
    12:53 pm

  8. Why would a character in a TVC be anything other than… wait for it… a character in a TVC?

    One could take it to mean all sorts of things, but one could also take it to be …. wait for it … a TVC.

    Of course, the reason these things are supposed to be funny is that if you are not part of the group being portrayed it is funny to laugh at, but if you are in that group, it is potentially offensive. That is how politically incorrect jokes work.

  9. Ali Gungor
    31 Jan 11
    12:56 pm

  10. Looks like an episode from Will & Grace or Modern Family…

    There’s definately something wrong with people who complained.

  11. Edgar
    31 Jan 11
    1:17 pm

  12. “…the gay community who have embraced the humour and its intent and congratulated Westpac on our depiction of these characters.”

    Yeah right. The ad is about as funny as a shark attack and offensive to boot.

  13. Grant Fenton
    31 Jan 11
    1:20 pm

  14. I can’t imagine why anyone would be offended at this advertisment….other than to say its probably not the best ad I’ve ever seen and is poorly scripted. However, in terms of being stereotypical? I can think of a hundered other more stereotypical scripts that could have been written and in terms of a look; well its about a million miles off Dick Emery’s gay spoofing so I wouldn’t be complaining.
    I think it shows a great approach to considering that Gay couples could be portrayed as customers. We know they’re out there so why not show that they live in the real world.

  15. OldSchool
    31 Jan 11
    1:34 pm

  16. What a crock ! Ongoing use of creepy creative to cloak the greed of the big banks ! What about the tripe being served up by the Commonwealth Bank!? They must think we’ve no recall of “we’ll sack staff and replace them with ATMs and that’ll reduce people’s bank fees” or “there’ll be no reduction in competition in the banking sector if Westpac buy St George” – truly so mauvaise foi – they’re living in their own private Idaho!

  17. Emma Gustafsson
    31 Jan 11
    1:53 pm

  18. A very very, clever ad. Nice to see ANZ being shown up on banking humor. And no doubt that is Alex perry. wonderful!

  19. Ben
    31 Jan 11
    2:59 pm

  20. The biggest gay festival in Australia, the Mardi Gras, is essentially a bunch of gays parading down the street dressed in drag/on motorbikes/covered in sequins. Basically it’s a competition to see who can be the biggest gay stereotype, and yet it’s embraced by the gay community.

    But this is somehow offensive?

  21. macsmutterings
    31 Jan 11
    4:23 pm

  22. “…the gay community who have embraced the humour and its intent and congratulated Westpac on our depiction of these characters.” … really? I wonder how many thay actually spoke to!?

  23. macsmutterings
    31 Jan 11
    4:24 pm

  24. Oh, and I’m not offended by it, I just think it is a bad ad

  25. HalfPreg
    31 Jan 11
    5:48 pm

  26. The bottom line is that this is a very hollow brand strategy from Westpac. This campaign is “executional” at best and “category generic” if you give them any credit at all.

    Forget the stereotypes – the real story is the impending agency pitch.

  27. Keef
    31 Jan 11
    7:46 pm

  28. As a heterosexual male I’ve decided to boycott all ads that portray me as dumb, hapless, useless ’round the home, a bad driver, terrible cook, useless husband/father, can’t read a map, scared of my mother-in-law, can’t fix a washer, can’t read instructions, can’t use the washing machine, can’t use the most basic technology, can’t shop, slight pervert, can’t change a nappy, can’t even distinguish what washing powder is, all while being a slightly chubby and oafish VB drinker. I WOULD boycott those products, however as that’s the advertising industry’s ONLY way of portraying heterosexual males, I’d most likely starve!

  29. curious
    31 Jan 11
    10:02 pm

  30. can anyone cite examples of gay/lesbian characters in advertising that aren’t stereotypes? note I said characters, not ian thorpe.

  31. Keef
    31 Jan 11
    10:10 pm

  32. …. oh, and particularly ads that believe i don’t have the slightest knowledge of the female menstrual cycle and female sanitary hygiene products… (Although, in all truth, I do prefer to play a little dumb to all that lot….!)

  33. Dave
    31 Jan 11
    10:23 pm

  34. Keef

    You should also ban the company that claims that if you don’t fix something round the home yourself, your wife is going to sleep with the handyman. Although it is a hilarious ad.


  35. Anonymous
    1 Feb 11
    1:00 am

  36. Sorry, what’s the stereotype? That they’re seamstresses?

    Westpac should be applauded for thinking the mighty pink dollar might add value to their bank.

  37. curious
    1 Feb 11
    7:56 am

  38. why is it that advertising is subject to so many complaints like this, yet movies and tv shows are rife with similar material and they don’t get pulled off air?

  39. feeonar
    1 Feb 11
    8:44 am

  40. I would be offended as a gay male NOT because I was offended by the concept, but the performers are HORRID and the script shocking.

    A crap ad inclusive, or exclusive of homosexual people is still a crap ad.

  41. Alek
    1 Feb 11
    8:52 am

  42. If we’re so worried about perpetuating stereotypes, why do we tolerate drag queens and flambouyant gay men, and über-butch womyn in our parades? Aren’t we(they) also perpetuating the same negative stereotypes we complain about here? And we all know effeminate gay men, we know “butch” gay men, we know effeminate straight men, and effeminate lesbians. Let’s stop being so sensitive and PC!

  43. Anonymous
    1 Feb 11
    10:31 am

  44. Curious, rumour has it that these two in the Westpac ad were both pulled off air…by each other.

  45. DUI
    1 Feb 11
    1:08 pm

  46. Go to bed Jessica!!!

  47. Sarah L
    2 Feb 11
    4:05 pm

  48. I wasn’t offended by the gay people, didn’t even cross my mind. I was offened by the mention of the Easter Show – it is so Sydney centric! And the bank wants to make money all over Australia….quietly irritated.

  49. steven
    2 Feb 11
    7:42 pm

  50. i was offended, mostly by the blatant rip off of Best in Show…

  51. Anthony
    23 Feb 11
    12:20 pm

  52. I am gay…you silly queens..get a life…It is funny. How different is it to a drag show? We created humour….dont kill it..go and get a good fuck!

  53. Hannah
    23 Feb 11
    1:56 pm

  54. Boring ad. Nothing offensive about it.