ASB rules Pedigree ad presents unsafe road behaviour but is not unnecessarily violent

The ad-watchdog has ruled against Pedigree’s ‘Feed the Good’ ad for showing young men running out on a busy road, a depiction which the Ad Standards Board ruled was contrary to community safety.

The campaign aims to show the good that dogs can bring out in people and drive donations to the PetRescue charity, with the local ad created by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne showing two gangs aggressively confronting each other on a street corner. But two of them stop brawling and team up to rescue a cowering alsatian which is caught in the middle of a busy road.

Complainants argued the dog food ad was “distressing” and “condones and courages violence”.

“I was appalled by the violent new advertisement on Channel 10 for Pedigree Dog Food, showing gangs fighting on the street and then showing a German Shepherd dog trapped between traffic while his elderly owner looks on in distress, only to be saved by these useless pieces of trash, gang members. The ad was distressing at all levels and it should be removed from television. It condones and encourages violence, which first appears to be a real life situation or a documentary,” a complaint read.

Another complaint suggested the ad was “extremely disingenuous from Pedigree” as it relies on “appealing to the fearful nature of people in order to plug their product a the end”.

“There is no logical connection between dog food and brawls, nor is there a connection with dog food and oncoming traffic. I believe the ad is a subversive attempt to make people fearful for either their safety or for the life of their pet, and then by extension associate the product Pedigree with a return to safety/stability. Tasteless and shameful advertising,” the complaint said.

Pedigree rejected the idea the TV ad encouraged or supported bullying or fighting.

“There is no content or endorsement of violence and the physical confrontation between the boys is used only as a moment of tension that the introduction of the dog resolves,” the advertiser told the board.

“The physicality is not celebrated, endorsed or presented in a way that encourages the same behaviour. Nor is it presented in a glamorous way or with any appeal.”

While a minority of the board considered the ad did depict violence that was not relevant to the product advertised, it was the majority of the board’s view the level of contact between the men was “aggressive rather than violent”.

However, in adjudicating the ad, the board noted “the action of running out in front of on-coming traffic is dangerous” and ruled this depiction was contrary to prevailing community standards on safe road use, ruling the ad must be removed from air play.

In response to this decision, Pedigree has said the ad will be edited to remove the footage of the men running onto the road in front of cars. It will be replaced with scenes that show no cars and no car sound effects, specifically horns and tyre squeal.

“We trust that the above actions would alleviate the Board’s concerns in relation to the advertisement,” said Pedigree.

Miranda Ward 


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