Energy Watch ad banned for racial stereotyping

An ad for Energy Watch has been banned by the Advertising Standards Bureau for racially stereotyping Indian people as “door knockers”.

The ASB ruled that the depiction of the door to door salesman as an Indian man with a strong accent perpetuates a negative stereotype, and the suggestion that the Indian man may not be honest is also offensive.

A complaint from an Australian of Indian descent read: “I find the ad racist and given that there are hardly any Indians or Asians in ads on Australian TV it merely is pandering to a stereotypical depiction of my heritage.”

Another read: “If it is acceptable for blue-eyed white people to blow a whistle and show Asians a red card then Hitler will indeed be proud.”

The Communications Council’s multicultural committee chair Sheba Nandkeolyar, who recently criticised the ad industry for its hesitation to use “foreign faces” in advertising, told Mumbrella: ” I cannot believe in this day and age agencies are creating such ads.”


  1. Shane
    16 Aug 11
    12:28 pm

  2. And yet ads abound that perpetuate the negative stereotype of the “mere male” who is confused by the simplest household task, and suggest that men are intellectually inferior to women.

    Hell, even this ad does it to a degree!

  3. Anonymous
    16 Aug 11
    1:05 pm

  4. such a precious country we’re becoming aren’t we?

    wouldn’t it have been more racist to have not given him the job because he’s indian?

    I think the stereotype lies with call centres, not door-to-door sales anyway..

  5. Irv
    16 Aug 11
    1:11 pm

  6. isn’t this also the company who only represents AGL, despite saying they recommend the best deal from any supplier? isn’t ASIC or the ACCC onto this mob yet?

  7. another annoying anom
    16 Aug 11
    1:26 pm

  8. I agree with Shane, I’m noticing more and more ads that depict the “mere male” as a dult. Is there a men’s group that speaks up when this happens?

    Back to the topic, the ad is pretty bad.

  9. Nath
    16 Aug 11
    1:37 pm

  10. Yep they are the mob who a bankrolled by AGL, biggest farce going round. Can’t believe Today Tonight et al haven’t nailed them yet

  11. Or Fact
    16 Aug 11
    1:43 pm

  12. Stereotype or Fact?

    I know every door knocker i have had over the past 2 years has been Indian.

  13. OTOH
    16 Aug 11
    1:46 pm

  14. I think what people might be missing here is that this ad is also combating stereotypes. As if the spokesperson for the company in this ad knows anything about what she’s talking about. And that nasty stereotype that people only eat dinner at night, and not when it’s still clearly bright and sunny (or slightly overcast) outside.

    Awful, awful ad.

  15. PSN
    16 Aug 11
    2:13 pm

  16. I’m the least PC person there is and I do not offend easily, at all. I find racism hilarious because of it’s intrinsic absurdity.
    But I did find this ad offensive enough to make my one and only complaint to the ASB. To splash this over national TV is ridiculously irressible and reallly poor judgement on the ad agency and company’s behalf. I’m certain that some white Aussies were sitting there watching it going “yeah, bloody Indians” while Indians were sitting there thinking “why does the guy have to be Indian?”. It’s enciting racism and encouraging it.

    If you want to make fun at racial steretypes, then fine. But don’t splash your closed minded, blinkered opinions on national TV to try to bandy up the sympathy of and support from the rest of your racist pals.

    The worst part is the company saying “we road tested it with our Indian colleagues who thought it was fine!”
    Of course they did – they work for you! I’m certain if they didn’t, they’d be seen as not supporting the team.

  17. mish
    16 Aug 11
    2:15 pm

  18. I needed something to be outraged over today; luckily I found it.

  19. Hmmm...
    16 Aug 11
    2:53 pm

  20. You could make this TVC way better by swapping over all the characters.

    Have the Indian dude married to the ear-twister, the blonde chick with the massive front teeth trying to sell dodgy plans, and the dumb dude blowing the whistle.

    Either that, or have a kelpie dog answer the door to a circus midget-and-strongman team. The whistle-blower could be a lion tamer.

  21. Sunny
    16 Aug 11
    3:12 pm

  22. str8 racist … in fact, i’m a Canadian with an Indian background and been in Australia almost 4 years now … Australia is racist … they get away with things that would NEVER happen in North America … there is no humour in racism, especially when you have been on the receiving end ….

  23. Warney
    16 Aug 11
    3:31 pm

  24. who’s the hot chick in the short shorts?

  25. Sue
    16 Aug 11
    3:35 pm

  26. mmm

    that’s like saying everyone who works in a convenience store or servo is an Indian or Pakistani …….

  27. Gezza
    16 Aug 11
    4:38 pm

  28. Would have been a lot funnier if when the chick blows the whistle she showed the indian dude a red card and said “you’re off mate, get back to where you came from”

  29. Samantha
    16 Aug 11
    4:51 pm

  30. Hi Sunny

    sorry to hear you have been on the receiving end of rasicm :(

    what happens to you here in Oz that wouldn’t happen in North America?

    Cuz I have been to the USA and down South, they are still pretty damn racist from what I can see.

    But being white, I don’t experience what you experience so would be interested in hearing what we in Australia do that is racist that you experience.

  31. simon lawson
    17 Aug 11
    3:44 pm

  32. The worst part of this ad is that Energy Watch is presenting itself as people’s champion helping householders to get the cheapest energy for their circumstances.

    This excerpt taken from the Sunday Telegraph on Sunday 5th June:

    “CONSUMERS could be duped into unnecessarily costly electricity contracts by a price comparison service which only recommends power giant AGL.

    Energy Watch, which claims it has switched over 150,000 customers in the past three years, is spending almost $8 million a year on advertising to convince the public it is an independent service which can be trusted to find the cheapest power deals. But the company is only recommending AGL to NSW customers.

    This could cost customers money because there are cheaper deals available from rival firms.”

  33. kate
    17 Aug 11
    4:16 pm

  34. Yes, it’s racist, glad it was pulled,

    Now, onto the important business of the ‘ref’s enormous and luminous teeth!

  35. Darren Rowse
    19 Aug 11
    2:01 pm

  36. I was always amazed that the ad was ever allowed to be shown in the first place. The racial stuff was terrible and the gender stereotypes were not overly helpful either (but they’re not the only ones to use that approach).

    Also found it interesting that when I complained to them via email, Twitter and Facebook I never received an acknowledgement or response. Poor Social Media interactions – if you are a company and are going to have SM accounts at least monitor them.

    The couple of times I did see them respond to people they pulled ‘we have Indian employees and they were not offended by the ad’ line. Pretty stupid argument – the people who they pay…. were not offended….. hmmm.

    Interestingly their YouTube channel where they showed the ad was filled with racial hatred – lots of references to people of Indian decent described in very very ugly and racist ways (which went unmonitored for weeks). They did finally start to moderate comments.

  37. Anonymous
    19 Aug 11
    2:17 pm

  38. a quick google and i found this –

    and this –

    just incase you were wondering who was behind the ads :)

  39. Mr. Wan
    27 Aug 11
    3:50 am

  40. I realised that Australians have not learnt thier lesson on racism and discrimination

  41. Robbie
    27 Aug 11
    6:26 pm

  42. I sorry. but the ads are quite representative of the norm in energy retailing, It’s not offensive in my mind and it’s not about racial profiling more about reality. Most of the taxi’s I use have Indian drivers so what.

  43. Robert
    14 Sep 11
    3:09 pm

  44. How many blonde ladies in shorts turn up at your door to help you out of a sticky situation? The point is not whether racial profiling is based on reality but wether it is represented equally throughout the commercial. That’s how the Nazis got away with so much. Because of lazy,distorted racial profiling of the Jews which continually reaffirmed stereotypes for there own use. Rob