Aboriginal Victoria’s Deadly Questions ads blocked by APN Outdoor

Aboriginal Victoria’s Deadly Questions campaign – which encourages people to ask probing, complex and controversial questions of Australia’s Indigenous population – won’t run on APN Outdoor assets.

Mumbrella understands the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) advised APN Outdoor some of the ads could be deemed discriminatory by the AANA’s Code of Ethics. Once Clemenger BBDO Melbourne learned APN Outdoor took issue with two of the campaign’s seven executions, the campaign was pulled from APN Outdoor altogether, but other outdoor companies will run the ads anyway.

A mock-up of how the campaign would have looked on APN Outdoor billboards

The Deadly Questions campaign is part of the Victorian government’s Aboriginal Victoria initiative, which is working towards a treaty between the government and the Indigenous population.

The out-of-home element of the campaign features some of the questions submitted on the Deadly Questions portal including ‘Why can’t Aboriginal people just get over the past?’

Mumbrella understands APN Outdoor submitted seven executions of the campaign to the OMA for review. The OMA referred the ads to Ad Standards, which advised two of the ads could be deemed as discriminatory by the AANA’s Code of Ethics.

APN Outdoor CEO and managing director, James Warburton, said in a statement to Mumbrella: “We referred the ads in question to the Advertising Standards Bureau, which is usual practice. The ASB advised that some of the ads might be in breach. This information was conveyed to the agency.”

Under the OMA Code of Ethics, OMA members must comply with the AANA Code of Ethics. The OMA has also developed an Advertising Content Policy which includes the directive: “An OMA member will not post an advertisement if the OMA’s copy advice states that the advertisement is likely to breach a self-regulatory code”.

Mumbrella understands, however, that once APN Outdoor refused to run two of the seven executions, the campaign was pulled from APN Outdoor altogether.

A spokesperson for Aboriginal Victoria, said in a statement: “We understand that some of the questions asked by the public – and that we are repeating in the campaign – are provocative, but that’s the point. To have an open discussion we need to acknowledge that some ugly viewpoints exist.

“We need our media partners to stand up and support Aboriginal Victorians throughout this process. It’s incredibly disappointing to have APN and the OMA dictate what they think is appropriate with regards to discrimination, when these questions are ones that we invited, are providing responses to, and represent the real conversation that Victorians want to have.”

Simon Lamplough, managing director at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, said Ooh Media has decided to run the campaign instead.

“The campaign was developed in partnership with Aboriginal Victorians and the Treaty Working Group to provide a platform that encourages discussion amongst all Victorians about the issue of Treaty.

“Our brief was to change perceptions and create work with cultural impact.”

Another Deadly Question, which now won’t run on APN Outdoor boards

At the time of the campaign’s launch, Evan Roberts, ECD at Clemenger Melbourne said: “We’re not even asking the most basic questions and it’s not because we are not interested or we don’t care, it’s actually because we are all worried about looking ignorant or being racist.

“To get where we need to get be, the absolute first step is to go ‘Alright get all your dumb questions out, ask anything you want to ask,’ so Deadly Questions is a place where you can ask an Aboriginal person any question you want and you can ask it anonymously.”

Mumbrella understands JC Decaux will continue to run the campaign.

The OMA has been approached for comment.

UPDATE 2:55pm: The OMA has issued the following statement in response to the story:

“OMA sought copy advice on the Victoria State Government’s Deadliest Questions campaign from Ad Standards. While we recognise the purpose of the advertisement is to raise awareness of an important issue and that the advertisement is meant to provoke a reaction and drive visitation to the website, Ad Standards advised that two of the executions could potentially be found in breach of section 2.1 of the AANA Code of Ethics if the advertisement attracted complaints. This information was provided to our OMA members.”


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