AHM ad harking back to cricketer Andrew Symonds decking a streaker banned by watchdog for depicting an act of violence

Industry watchdog Ad Standards has banned an ad for AHM health insurance which features former Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds taking out a production assistant on set.

The ad harks back to Symonds’ famous decking of an on-field streaker during a 2008 one day international match against India.

The ad depicts Symonds reenacting the shoulder charge action against a production assistant trying to repair the set where the cricketer is explaining AHM’s new package. Complaints lodged to the Ad Standard’s community panel said that the ad depicts an act of assault in the workplace, and glorifies unprovoked violence and acts of bullying.

“Advert makes fun of what is basically an assault in the workplace. The advert were Andrew Symonds shoulders the young guy just trying to do his job in his workplace is disappointing,” one complainant wrote.

Another pointed out the difference in physical size between Symonds and the assistant.

“There is a deliberate and aggressive action from the larger main character towards the unsuspecting much smaller male, where he is struck quite violently prompting the main character to suggest he will need more chiropractic cover regarding his insurance policy. This appears to promote bullying and unprovoked violence,” they said.

Concerns were also raised about the social message of a former professional athlete committing an act of violence without consequence, and the display of toxic masculinity.

At the time of the incident the ad is based on, the legality of Symonds colliding with the streaker was questioned.

The incident from 2008 can be seen here:

In response to the complaints, AHM removed the ad from its TV media buy, but did defend the content to the community panel. It also mentioned that Clear Ads gave the ad a general classification which deems the content mild in impact and suitable for all audiences.

It also suggested that as the ads were shown during the broadcast of the Big Bash League cricket, the reference to the 2008 streaker incident would be recognisable to the audience – a claim that the community panel disagreed with.

On claims that the ad depicts workplace bullying, AHM said that a playful relationship between Symonds, the production assistant and other staff on the set is established by their reactions to the assistant’s ‘goofy and clumsy’ portrayal.

“The character of the television production assistant also creates a friendly and playful relationship between the director and the television production assistant, and between Andrew Symonds and the television production assistant,” it said.

“This is further emphasised in the reactions of the director and Andrew Symonds towards the television production assistant, which aren’t negative, disapproving or scolding in any way. This playful relationship between the characters is also deliberately intended to lessen the impact of any portrayal of violence when Andrew Symonds bumps the television production assistant.”

In making its decision, the panel determined that the single interaction in the ad did not suggest repeated harmful behaviour towards the production assistant takes place that amounts to bullying.

AHM stated that the impact of the physical contact was mild, and that the reaction of the production assistant and other staff members depicted in the ad was played up to “lessen the impact of any portrayal of violence and make it appear unrealistic, exaggerated and humorous”.

The insurance provider also argued that Symonds’ comment that “We might need to up chiro” informs the audience that “he isn’t badly injured and doesn’t need to go to hospital”.

However, the Ad Standards community panel disagreed, and determined that because the production assistant was not shown to get back up and there is a suggestion that he is injured and may need chiropractic help, it did constitute an act of violence.

Therefore, the Ad Standards panel upheld the complaints.


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