New Idea ad draws complaints for religious insensitivity

An ad for women’s magazine New Idea has received 40 complaints to the advertising watchdog for inappropriately depicting a religious group.

The ad for New Idea, which is running on TV and in cinemas, appears to feature an Amish woman who discovers a copy of New Idea. The magazine is blamed for a woman revealing her thigh to her friends, and is tossed into a river.

The ad was launched at the end of July to mark a redesign and the PacMags title’s 110th birthday.

The ASB board is yet to discuss the ad.


  1. crizza
    8 Aug 12
    1:55 pm

  2. seems to be just a take on Tim Allen’s For Richer or Poorer Can’t see a problem with it – actually thought it was fun, but I’m not the demographic.

  3. Sarah
    8 Aug 12
    2:03 pm

  4. Subtle humour, smart and relevant. Nice work. Pity the religious zealots.

  5. crizza
    8 Aug 12
    2:17 pm

  6. what are the Amish doing watching TV anyway?

  7. Mike C
    8 Aug 12
    2:18 pm

  8. Why use american style “amish” characters to promote an australian magazine??

  9. Sailor Gal
    8 Aug 12
    2:31 pm

  10. I found the whole premise of women policing other women’s behavior much more disturbing.

  11. Spagoni
    8 Aug 12
    2:32 pm

  12. I never knew that the Amish were such a large and seemingly vocal lobby group here in Australia. Maybe the 40 complainants were in fact, all 40 of ’em.

    Personally I thought that the ad was actually quite well executed, lovingly shot and nicely paced, although a bit on the trite side, and even a little benign if you think about it.

    Another storm in broth cup.

  13. Lola
    8 Aug 12
    2:51 pm

  14. Doesn’t really seem to fit the brand.
    Surely with the budget they had they could have made an ad that spoke to the readers better.
    All a little bit pleased with itself isn’t it?

  15. Dawn
    8 Aug 12
    3:14 pm

  16. Being the devil’s advocate, if you were to create the exact same ad, same content, same outcome but featured a group of Muslim women in Burkas rather than Amish women in bonnets, would the reaction to the ad be the same? Would there be a difference and what would it be? I see how this ad has received complaints based on religious inaccuracies and/or insensitivity. Am I personally offended? Not really. Do I think the ad oversteps, though, in how it depicts the Amish faith? Yep.

  17. archie
    8 Aug 12
    3:27 pm

  18. it’s bloody fabulous and IMHO one of the best Australian ads we’ve seen for years – quirky, original, arresting, fitting soundtrack, well paced, beautifully shot

    the inanity of some of the comments above really make me wonder about the quality of the people in our industry – Crizza, Sailor Gal, Lola and Mike C are you recent grads, recently unemployed?

  19. Ann
    8 Aug 12
    3:45 pm

  20. Did she get a littering fine?

  21. Tin
    8 Aug 12
    4:38 pm

  22. Sorry, but I have to agree with Dawn. There’d be hell to pay if this depicted Muslim faith.

    But 40 complaints? Sheesh, people need to get over themselves.

  23. Lola
    8 Aug 12
    6:04 pm

  24. Archie – no-one’s questioning how it’s been made. In fact it’s clearly executed very well. My point was does it talk to its customers? Will they buy the magazine because of it? Will sales go up because of this ad. My guess is no.
    If you miss the point of comments so easily it makes me question your credentials…

  25. Jay
    8 Aug 12
    7:43 pm

  26. I’ve worked in the advertising industry for over 15 years and I will submitting complaint No 41. This ad actually breaks Australian law and should be pulled straight away. It is well executed ad of poor taste.

  27. Leslie-John
    8 Aug 12
    10:39 pm

  28. Despite the claims of those here trying to discredit those who have lodged complaints against this ad as just “religious zealots” who are complaining about this ad, I know of substantial numbers of people who are not religious but who have found the ad inappropriate or offensive and lodged complaints directly with Pacific Magazines. The fact is for the 40 complaints received by ASB, there will have been hundreds of complaints forwarded directly to the magazines publisher.
    Pacific Magazines, publisher of New Idea magazine have made a major blunder with this ad. Sure the ad has done its job in focusing attention on a supposedly revamped New Idea magazine [sales of which has been steadily declining for a long time now] but for the wrong reason. If Pacific Magazines were hoping the ad would bring them increased sales of New Idea I think they’ll be sadly mistaken. What I think will happen is that because of the nature of the ad, they’ll actually lose sales. And if ASB do fine Pacific Magazines which is highly likely given the volume of complaints received, then this ad campaign along with lost sales is going to be a financial disaster for them. And in my view, rightly so.

  29. Leslie-John
    8 Aug 12
    10:58 pm

  30. crizza, spagoni, archie

    Publicly displaying your pig ignorance of the Amish people and their way of life and implying that those making the complaints must be the entire 40 Amish who live in Australia, only shows the level of your own intelligence [clearly not much]
    My advise to all three of you: Don’t bother applying for jobs as creative directors in advertising. Any client of a company that did take on you as such, certainly wouldn’t be getting good value for their money

  31. Conor
    9 Aug 12
    7:18 am

  32. I’ll be 42. Has anyone asked Kim Wilson, the Editor, to explain herself? I’d love to hear the reason they went with this treatment. Strange decision.

  33. brownwood robot
    9 Aug 12
    1:52 pm

  34. I always thought the ad was a bit of an “own goal” – the concept that New Idea is exciting and interesting to some women who are effectively living in the 18th century only serves to remind modern women how tired and boring it is.

  35. Sailor Gal
    9 Aug 12
    2:26 pm

  36. Archie
    Tell me how my initial reaction to this ad (being in the NI target demographic may I add) lacks meaning or does not have a point?

    Look, as it’s an ad, I am more focussed on the message, you know the stuff the client wants us audience members to know about and connect with.

    I do not like it for the reasons stated, and can I also add it’s full of unimaginitive, stereotypical imiges (yes beautifully shot) and doesn’t speak to it’s target audience well. Re branding NI as “forbidden fruit” when the target audience are more likley reading 50 shades of Grey?? Seroiusly??? I would alos like to know the reasoning behind this particular choice of treatment.

  37. reality
    10 Aug 12
    10:50 am

  38. Anyone who calls it “treatment” obviously doesn’t work in advertising. It’s called an idea, and Conor/Sailor Gal, you clearly don’t have one.

  39. Leslie-John
    10 Aug 12
    5:57 pm

  40. reality

    Whether it’s called an idea or treatment is irrelevant.
    The only “reality” that matters is that this campaign from day one of its inception was intended to deliberately create controversy from the start. I call that deliberately cynical and manipulative advertising and something which only reinforces the particularly poor perception that the wider community already has of the advertising industry as a whole.

  41. Annalisa G
    23 Aug 12
    8:38 pm

  42. I just saw the advert and logged in to my laptop to complain to New Idea. Making fun of someone’s religious beliefs is not funny and not something to be used in this way.

  43. crizza
    24 Aug 12
    10:48 am

  44. give us a break Annalisa – I’m a Catholic and we’ve been having fun made of us for centuries (well, not during the inquisition, obviously, but after that). And I’ll apologise in advance for old Archie for being flippant.

  45. crizza
    24 Aug 12
    10:53 am

  46. I mean I’ll apologise in advance TO old Archie for being flippant.

  47. Bob
    24 Aug 12
    11:13 am

  48. Difference is, the Amish aren’t exactly a controversial group, and people aren’t generally discriminative or hostile towards them, as they are towards Muslims!

  49. KIm
    25 Aug 12
    7:55 pm

  50. What I didn’t like it that it seems to be making judgements that our way of life (the one portrayed in NI) is better than theirs.

    That’s what I find offensive about the ad (and I’m not religious). Who is to say that one person’s way of life is better than anyone else’s.

  51. Emmica Schlobohm
    29 Aug 12
    11:33 am

  52. “Thus far, most of the complaints regarding the advertisement have been because of its religious insensitivity. Whilst true, I think we can dig a bit deeper and recognise that New Idea’s notion of feminism is sketchier than career advice from Delta Goodrem. ”

    I’ve written about it here if anyone is interested: