Ubank ads cleared of commodifying terminal illness

Ubank’s latest ad featuring ‘real estate tips from the terminally ill’ has been cleared by the ad watchdog after complaints suggesting they were using people in suffering to sell their product.

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The ad which tries to give consumers a perspective on what matters after receiving a “death sentence” was scrutinised by complainants for using terminal illness as a way to sell the brand.

The ad was described as “poor taste,” “insulting” and “offensive” in missives to the ASB.

One complainant said: “U Bank has shamelessly used terminal illness as a way to sell their product, and I cannot believe that this commercial has been allowed to be shown. It’s absolutely infuriating & disgusting.”

“I am offended as I have cancer and money is a big worry during treatment and existing. Is U bank going to make all the worries disappear? It would be lovely to borrow less. I find it’s distasteful to use people in this manner,” another complainant wrote.

Ubank responded explaining while they understood the campaign “elicited strong emotional responses (both positive and challenging)” they were “confident” they had followed related guidelines.

While one complainant accused the company of using actors, Ubank noted all people shown in the advertisement were terminally ill patients.

The ad watchdog noted the complainants’ concerns the ad was insulting and offensive, but acknowledged advertisers can use whoever they want in an advertisement.

While the Board sympathised with the complainants’ concerns and recognised some would find the ad confronting, it determined the advertisement did not discriminate or vilify a person or section of the community.

Clearing it of breaching the codes the ASB said the content “did not present people with terminal illness in a negative light or suggest that they should be thought any less of because of their health.”


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