Chilling bushfire safety message cleared by advertising watchdog

A “retraumatising” ad urging home owners to make detailed plans for bushfires has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Board.

The ad from the Victorian government features a blank screen with the sounds of a panicky family trying to make last moment plans as a smoke alarm sounds.

It was later attacked as being retraumatising for victims.

The ad was created by Badjar Ogilvy.

According to one complaint to the ASB:

“The advertisement implies that bushfires and escaping them are totally the responsibility of the individual – in the case of the 2009 Vic bushfire this was blatantly untrue communication and warnings were poor at best and non-existent in many cases. People with excellent preparation died. This ad is further traumatising an already traumatised community and compounding guilt and blame that you can rest assured is still there.”

However, the ASB ruled: “The Board noted that the advertisement was screened in Victoria and the complainants mentioned the after effects of the 2009 bush fire. The Board noted that many people were very badly affected by bushfires and that an advertisement such as this which suggests the death of a family is likely to be upsetting for many viewers the topic is very emotive and that some members of the community would find any mention of bush fires, including this advertisement, to be upsetting.

It added: “”The Board considered that whilst the advertisement would be upsetting for some members of the community the important community safety message needs to be broadcast.”


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.