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Ad watchdog dismisses complaints against Handee Ultra’s ‘good sheet’ TV ad

The Ad Standards Board has dismissed complaints arguing Handee Ultra’s ‘good sheet’ TV ad was “offensive”, ruling that in the context of an ad for a paper towel the “implication of a mild swear word is not inappropriate”.

Complainants argued the ad, which plays on people swearing when making a mess, was inappropriate “especially in the family TV viewing time”.

“This is trying to be a smutty play on words or something, given the similarity of sheet and shit,” one complaint read.

“The word sheet was obviously used in replacement of a swear word (s%$@), but the word sheet is so close to the original it’s offensive, and could be encouraging audiences to swear, to make it seem that profane words are funny. It is trivialising profanity.”

Handee Ultra defended the campaign, created by Venus Communications, claiming the ad features “characters calling for a ‘sheet’ of Handee Ultra Paper towel immediately after experiencing a minor spill”.

“This ad is intended to capture the emotion that one feels and the behavior that one exhibits when an accidental spill occurs in the home,” Handee Ultra told the ASB. “The ad leverages the insight that when a spill happens we all respond with an emotional outburst in some form or another and paper towel is a natural go to solution in these moments.

“This line is not intended to sound like “Sh#t or a hybrid of “Sh#t” and “Sheet”. Care was taken to cast actors that look and indeed are over the age of 14 years old.”

In its ruling, the Ad Standards Board noted it had recently upheld a TV ad for a hair product that used the phrase ‘F’n’L’. However in this case the board concluded that “use of the implied word “shit” is not as strong as the implied “fucking hell” used in the Garnier Fructis ad.

It was the board’s view that the exclamation in the ad was “used in a way that most people would use the word” and was not aggressive.

In dismissing the complaints, the watchdog added that “in the context of an advertisement for paper towels, the implication of a mild swear word is not inappropriate and would not be considered strong or obscene language by most members of the community”.

Miranda Ward

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