ASB dismisses a complaint against ‘homophobic’ Brokescrap Mountain billboard

St George Metal Recovery billboardThe Ad Standards Board has dismissed a complaint a Sydney scrapyard’s ‘Brokescrap Mountain’ billboard was homophobic but upheld another complaint against a Wicked Campers internet ad and an ad for e-cigarette brand Vaporfresh.

A complaint against the St George Metal Recovery billboard claimed: “This advertisement implies that Brokeback Mountain is gay (alluding to the film) and suggests that their service is “straight up”, implying that being ‘gay’ is bad. I find this incredibly offensive and homophobic.”

However, the scrap yard replied saying Brokescrap Mountain is a registered name for the business, adding it was not implying being gay is bad.

The scrap yard has had a previous complaint upheld by the ASB, with the board upholding complaints arguing a billboard which featured a woman in a bikini was exploitative. 

The scrap yard defended the current billboard arguing they assumed “the general consensus with the majority of people who know of the film, irrespective of whether or not they have seen the film think it is a movie about 2 homosexual men, on a mountain?”

They further defended the ad by outlining their “large multi-cultural, professional, homosexual, straight, atheist, religious, different body shaped, customer base which come to us because yes, our service is ‘straight up'” which they argue means honest and fair.

“We aren’t implying that “being ‘gay’ is bad”, you (the complainant) have simply perceived that. What other companies out there big or small are championing equality? This billboard should be celebrated not complained about. There is no way that the 2 directors of our company would get their photos taken, photoshop the hats on, add a wilderness background and hate on homosexuals! How would that make us money?

“At the time it was to be erected (no pun intended), this billboard was to coincide with a private members bill introduced into the Federal Senate by Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, however delays in the printing process made the erection (had to do it) 3 weeks late,” the scrap yard said in its response to the complaint.

They scrap yard argued put forward that ‘Broke Scrap Mountain’ is one of its registered business names.

In its ruling, the board noted the registered business name of ‘Brokescrap Mountain’ and considered the term ‘straight up’ was not “of itself discriminatory towards homosexuals”. The board ruled the ad did not portray or depict material which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community, thus the complaint was dismissed.

Wicked Campers complaint

The ASB did uphold complaints relating to a Wicked Campers slogan for depicting a packet of cigarettes and a e-cigarette company TV ad for suggesting smoking was a pleasurable activity, ruling the ads depicted material against prevailing community standards on health and safety.

The Wicked ad in question featured an image of a packet of cigarettes with the word ‘Wicked’ written in the style of ‘Winfield’ cigarettes, with the packet open and some of the cigarettes raised up as though about to be taken from the packet.Wicked campers

A complaint against the ad highlighted cigarette advertising is against the law.

Wicked did not make a submission to the ASB hearing.

It was the board’s view the image of the open packet of cigarettes alongside branding which imitates a well-known brand of tobacco cigarettes was an overall depiction which is contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety around smoking, thus the complaint was upheld.

It is the eighth time this year Wicked has been ruled against by the ASB, but the first ad that was not a slogan or picture on the side of one of its vehicles.

Vapofresh ad ‘glamourised smoking’

The Vaporfresh TV ad was ruled against for similar reasons, with the ASB ruling the ad glamourised smoking and was against prevailing health and community standards.

Complaints against the ad argued it encouraged consumers to smoke as it was a pleasurable experience.

“This advertisement actually suggests the product provides the ‘pleasure of smoking without the actual smoke’ or similar… the problem is the with the suggestion about smoking pleasure, which encourages consumers along the lines that smoking is a pleasurable experience, which is something our advertising laws currently disallow to protect the community, especially youngsters from taking up the habit,” one complaint said.

Vaporfresh defended the spot, arguing the statement ‘all the smoking pleasure without any spoke’ was a reference to the “apparent pleasure smokers get otherwise they wouldn’t smoke”.

The complaint was upheld.

Miranda Ward


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