Audible gets first ad ban after showing Celeste Barber sitting in fridge

Amazon’s audiobooks brand Audible has had an ad banned by Australia’s advertising watchdog for the first time.

Barber: ‘Dangerous message for children’

The TV ad – featuring comedian Celeste Barber sitting in a fridge – breached the Ad Standards rules because of the risk that children might copy.

The campaign was created by the agency Emotive and launched in March.

The scene which generated complaints from the public featured Masterchef competitor Poh Ling Yeow closing the door on Barber. One complainant pointed out that there have been fatal accidents involving children locking themselves in old fridges:

“I am concerned that young children seeing Celeste Barber hiding in a fridge will think it s a fantastic hiding place for ‘hide and seek.’ This is a dangerous message, as children have died from hiding in fridges, they are a death trap.”

During the complaint process, Audible defended the ad but agreed to remove the scene anyway. It told the Ad Standards panel: “It is not reasonable to suggest that the advertisement would encourage a child to hide in a fridge.”

The panel referred back to previous cases which saw adults hiding in fridges and other white goods that were upheld due to the risk of the behaviour being imitated by children.

A minority of the panel considered that safety concerns about fridges were mainly related to older designs from the 50s and 60s that used latch closures, whereas modern fridges can be opened from the inside.

The majority of the panel, however, disagreed and stated that children could look to the ad and see fridges as a safe place to hide, particularly as Poh Ling Yeow would be easily recognisable to children who watch the family program Masterchef.

In response to the ruling Audible stated: “We regret that this advertisement has sparked concern for a number of Australians, as we care deeply about the wellbeing our community. When we received the notification from Ad Standards regarding this complaint, we immediately removed the advertisement from television. We have subsequently made the decision to modify this advertisement to remove the scene in question, and will look to run updated creative moving forward.”

Barber works for a number of brands. Earlier this month she became the face of a new campaign for alcohol brand BWS.

And this week Barber was in the news over her social media fundraising appeal during the bushfires. Barber helped raise $51m for the NSW Rural Fire Service, but the Supreme Court has been told that because of the way she focused the appeal, the money cannot be shared more widely with other bushfire relief charities or on injured or deceased firefighters.


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