Ad watchdog reprimands iSelect for showing ‘extreme anger’ and ‘violence’ in ad

The ad watchdog has banned an iSelect commercial for showing “extreme anger” and “violence” in an ad which depicts a woman smashing an Easter Bunny shaped pinata after receiving bad news about rising insurance premiums.

One of the complaints posted to Ad Standards described the commercial as “unsettling”, while another complaint said it exposes children to violence and “unacceptable behaviour”.

“Violence is an extremely serious problem in Australian society and to depict a mother at a party acting in such an extreme way is completely shocking and totally unnecessary. This ad is not funny and portrays that it is acceptable to act in this way when we don’t get what we want.

“Any depiction of violent or aggressive behaviour to advertise a product is not acceptable.” another complaint detailed.

The health insurer said it sympathises with “personal experiences” relating to the complaints but believes the ad is not in breach of the AANA Code of Ethics.

“iSelect has a long-standing tradition of humorous and irreverent advertising. Our comical and witty approach to advertising is widely known and loved by many Australians,” iSelect added.

The ad is intended to leverage the feeling of frustration Australian’s have when the cost of living rises, the insurer said.

Ad Standards dismissed complaints that the ad was demeaning towards women and encouraged violence towards animals, however, the Board said the protagonist’s actions are “very violent and menacing”.

The Board found the violence portrayed in the ad was unjustifiable in the context of health insurance and price comparison and iSelect should have been more careful when including “adults acting in an aggressive or violent manner in front of children” as it could impact their mental health.

iSelect responded to the ruling apologising, saying the company doesn’t tolerate domestic violence or violent behaviour.

The insurer has since removed the ad from air.


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