Ad Standards Board dismisses case against ‘crass’ Boost Juice ad referencing ‘oral sex’

Boost Juice’s ad for its ‘Matcha Bot’ Facebook Messenger Chatbot has escaped the ire of the ad watchdog, despite a complaint being made about its “obvious reference to oral sex that is crass”.

Launched earlier in March the ‘Matcha Bot’ – which engages the customer in conversation before trying to persuade the, to play the dating-style game –  was aimed at promoting Boost Juice’s new Tropical Matcha Smoothie.

The complaint against the bot was directed at its radio advertisement about a banana introducing himself by saying “put me in your mouth and don’t forget to make eye contact”, arguing it was “completely unnecessary for advertising a juice bar”.

Boost Juice’s bot offered consumers the chance to win a trip to Japan

In response to the complaint, Boost Juice said: “The advertisement does not contain any direct references to sex, sexuality or nudity and we strongly believe that it is in line with prevailing community standards.

“The advertisement centres on the Banana character, being one of the fruits used in the advertiser’s new product. There are no explicit sexual references and on the face of it, the Banana character is simply talking about being eaten and enjoyed in a humorous and lighthearted manner.”

The watchdog dismissed the complaint, but acknowledged the range of views in the community around the subject matter.

“The Board considered that there are numerous references and double entendres in the advertisement which are intended to have a sexual meaning even though it would also be clear to the consumer that the advertised product is a beverage. Specifically the Board noted numerous statements in the advertisement: ‘the only fruit packaged with protection’; ‘peel me slowly’; ‘put me in your mouth and don’t forget to make eye contact’; ‘to have and to hold, and suck through a straw’. The Board considered that, while there is no depiction of sex in the advertisement, the advertisement makes numerous references to oral sex or sexual activity and in the Board’s view can be considered to be a reference to sex and that a strong reference to an activity does amount to ‘depiction’ within the terms of the Code of Ethics.

“The Board considered that the use of humour may be the vehicle to deliver the promotion, but that the use of humour does not necessarily outweigh or justify a message that reasonable people in the community might take from an advertisement. The Board also noted that there will be a range of views in the community about how humour in a particular advertisement affects the message of the advertisement.

“The Board noted concerns that the advertisement was inappropriate for children to hear. The Board considered that though the advertisement did make references to sexual activity the double entendres were not overt or clear enough that they would be understood by children.

“The Board considered that the advertisement did treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience and determined that the advertisement did not breach Section 2.4 of the Code.”

In another radio advertisement complaint, Sportsbet has been in the firing line, after being accused of “perpetuating the stereotype of Chinese in being uneducated with English”.

The ad featured a male voiceover reading out a letter supposedly from the Chinese swim team congratulating Sportsbet on the new “juiced up Andriod App,” which saw the voiceover put on a Chinese accent.

“They also included the stereotype of being ‘small framed’. I am just disgusted and appalled that somehow this blatantly racist advertisement against Chinese people was developed enough to be at the airing stage,” the complaint said.

In response, Sportsbet defended the ad, rejecting the complaint.

“Although some listeners may not find the advertisements as humorous as some others might (or at all), they certainly do not go so far as to ‘unjustly or prejudicially’ treat any nationality, nor do the Advertisements ‘abusively disparage’ or ‘revile’ any nationality. Sportsbet also strongly rejects that the advertisements are in any way racist.”

The watchdog also dismissed the complaint, noting the context and history around using the Chinese swim team as a reference point.

“The Board noted that the overall tone of the advertisement is clearly referring to athletes from the Chinese swim team caught up in an infamous doping scandal. The Board considered that the era of this scandal and the topic, would appeal to a adults who have the historical knowledge of the scandal and the advertisement as a whole would not appeal to children,” the ASB said in its deterination.”


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