Same sex kissing couples cleared by ad watchdog, but shooting wives joke not on

Ad watchdog says same sex kisses are okay

Ad watchdog says same sex kisses are okay

Complaints over a Medibank Private ad featuring same sex couples kissing on TV have been rejected by the advertising watchdog, saying  such scenes were in the context of “a broad range of loving relationships”.

The Advertising Standards Bureau received complaints about a number of elements of the ad, which features a range of different settings, including a mother breastfeeding, a woman cuddling a dog and the images of a same sex couples kissing, embracing and moving away from implied kissing.

In complaints to the ASB, critics claimed that the scenes in the ad were offensive to Christian values.

“I wouldn’t let my young children watch a show with homosexual couples on it, but how am I supposed to censor advertisements? It is totally inappropriate and it pushes someone else’s accepted values on to my family. As a Christian do I have to keep the television turned off?,” one complaint said.

Another said that the ads breached the boundaries of what is acceptable on TV.

“I don’t mind seeing my daughter breastfeed her babies – I do object to seeing strangers breastfeeding in an advertisement on my TV in my own home. There are boundaries – I would not join Medibank if they are going to advertise like this – not necessary,” the complaint said.

Medibank Private responded to the complaints, saying it was a “documentary-style” TV commercial.

“Our decision to include same sex couples in our advertising stems from the fact that we have been providing health insurance to the Australian population for over 39 years, and do not exclude anyone based on their sexual orientation,” it said in its response to the ASB.

However, the ASB rejected all complaints saying that the ad was reflective of the broad pallette of Australian society.

“The Board considered that the image of the woman feeding her baby is very brief and is a depiction that does not expose the woman’s nipple or any nudity and is a modest and realistic depiction of how women feed their babies,” the determination said.

“Some members of the community might be uncomfortable with images of men kissing men, or women kissing women, but (the board) considered that the depictions of kissing in the advertisement are very brief and are not sexualised or shown to lead to any further intimacy.”

While the ASB dismissed the complaints against the Medibank Private ad, it upheld a complaint against a framing company company’s truck-side advertising, which suggested “we can shoot your wife”.

Complaints to the ASB said that the advertising was “sexist and violent”.

The full ad read: “We can shoot your wife and frame your mother-inlaw. If you want, we can hang them too!”

The company, Fantastic Framing, responded that the line was a humorous take on photography, framing and hanging.

“The reaction we get from our customers that it is very funny and it is relating to marriage and picture frames. Lots of people came to us and said ‘Funny we like it … very smart’.”

In its adjudication the ASB said a minority of the board agreed that the words “shoot”, “frame” and “hang” had generally accepted double meanings and could be considered humorous.

“The majority of the board, however, noted that while this play on words has been used for many years the board considered that the intended humour has now worn off and the double meaning of the advertisement is not relevant in contemporary society given the high level of community concern with regards to violence towards women.”

The complaint was upheld and the advertiser has agreed to end the campaign.

Simon Canning


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