Ad watchdog clears insurance brands of safety and animal cruelty complaints

New ads for Budget Direct and Bingle have been cleared by the Ad Standards Board of suggestions they would encourage children to do dangerous stunts and promoted animal cruelty respectively.

Budget Direct’s new Captain Risky campaign came under fire after complainants suggested it could cause children to copy some of the stunts featured in the campaign which was made by 303Lowe.

“Each year children and young adults suffer diving accidents related to diving into shallow water and some end up with spinal injuries. This ad concerns me deeply as young children may copy this chap and dive off something high into a kid’s pool and suffer injuries,” a complaint read.

Another complainant drew a parallel between the campaign and the Jackass movie.

“I believe the new ad contravenes several codes of advertising conduct, with particular concern for young teenage male viewers who are easily influenced by TV. The ad is similar to the Jackass movie which is rated R for dangerous and crude stunts.This is a serious complaint and the ASB board has a duty of care to protect consumers from harm before a young person seriously injures themselves in a copycat crude stunt.”

Budget Direct defended the spot, arguing it is “clearly targeted at adults” and “uses humour and exaggerated situations that members of the target audience would easily comprehend”.

“No children are depicted in the advert, children are clearly not being targeted as potential insurance customers and the advert is not scheduled to air in any children’s programs.

“It is very clear that the advert is not depicting a real world environment but an exaggerated and stylised world, for example, the Ramp in the advert is visually 85m tall. It is by definition meant to look ridiculously larger-than-life and is therefore a form of visual puffery and comedy.”

In its ruling, the ad watchdog noted the exaggerated behaviour of the character and considered the ad’s overall tone was humorous and fantastical.

The board also noted “that most of the stunts would not be able to be performed by a child as they involve vehicles or equipment not easily or readily available to a child (a jet-pack)”. The complaints were dismissed.

Rival insurance brand Bingle drew the wrath of viewers for an ad which used a chimp called Joni to demonstrate how easy it is to get a quote, with complainants suggesting the spot, created by The Monkeys, was unsettling and cruel to animals.

“I was horrified when the ape appeared to be pushed out of the plane one arm tied and blindfolded!! Whether it was really falling out of a plane or not, it looked terrified and a very upsetting situation especially when the voice over said to the terrified ape” not yet! Wait till you have finished”,” one complaint read.

Another complainant argued it promoted cruelty to animals alongside unsafe driving behaviour by showing a chimpanzee driving a vehicle.

“I believe that it is demeaning to animals and might encourage unscrupulous types to use animals in a cruel fashion. I actually find this ad very distressing to the point of tears. I find it highly offensive,” a further complaint said.

Bingle defended the spot, noting Honi was not a real chimpanzee.

“This is important as Bingle would never participate in, or condone, the mistreatment of animals for the purposes of advertising. Joni was developed by a specialised CGI studio, being the same studio that worked on the ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies and the anti-animal cruelty commercial by the US-based organisation PETA,” Bingle explained.

The board dismissed the complaints, noting the ad is “clearly fantastical and unrealistic and that most reasonable members of the community would recognise that it is not a real chimp parachuting or driving a motor vehicle”.

Miranda Ward


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.