Ad Standards Board dismisses complaints against HIV prevention campaign; Myer; dead horse mobile billboard; and Wicked Campers

The Ad Standards Board (ASB) has dismissed complaints arguing a HIV prevention campaign which saw an 18m tall pink condom erected over Sydney’s Hyde Park Obelisk was “inappropriate” and “offensive”, as well as dismissing complaints against Myer’s brand campaign, a dead horse mobile billboard, and a Wicked Campers slogan.

ACON campaign

The ASB ruled the HIV prevention campaign was not sexualised or inappropriate for a broad audience including children.

Complaints to the Ad Standards Board (ASB) argued it was inappropriate to have an “oversized large sex object shown in public where thousands of underage children cross the park to head to school”.

One complainant said: “I was asked by a friend’s child how gays even have sex with that pink thing. How do you explain that to a 12 year old? There are things that should be left in gay clubs and not be taught freely to minors without supervision.”

Another complainant argued it was not appropriate to advertise HIV awareness and prevention in “such an explicit way”.

“It is an extremely public area, and if you are travelling up Bathurst Street or walking down Elizabeth Street there is simply no way to avoid it. I found it offensive, and the fact it was covering the obelisk somehow made it more sexually explicit,” they said.

ACON, a NSW agency for HIV prevention among gay men, who commissioned the campaign, defended it to the ASB saying it believed it complied with the sensitivity and appropriateness requirements under the AANA Code of Ethics “and that the campaign does not market to children either directly or indirectly”.

“The intent of the large condom was to be eye catching and to draw attention to the public health message that relates to promoting sexual health. The aim is for an informed adult eye to understand instantly that the installation was a large condom, thus emphasising the central condom reinforcement message almost immediately,” ACON said.

“We do not believe that a young child would have an informed eye in the context of this campaign. ACON is sensitive to general community expectations and would never deliberately seek to provoke age-nappropriate engagement with our campaign material.”

ACON further defended the campaign, disagreeing with the complainant’s remark that they had used the Obelisk as a ‘sex object’.

“There was no imagery to suggest sexual acts, nor were their depictions of nudity inherent in the installation,” ACON said.

Meanwhile, complaints suggesting a mobile billboard featuring an image of a dead horse alongside the web address which argued it was distressing and false advertising were also dismissed by the ASB.

The ad, located on a truck, is the second version of the spot which was pulled by Ooh Media in October following objections from the land owner of the billboard site. Complaints against that version of the ad were dismissed by the Ad Standards Board (ASB) last month.

Complaints argued the ad was distressing and it was “false advertising”.

“This is disgusting and poorly done. No one should have to see a dead horse on a billboard travelling around to race meetings. they spread lies and do not show the actual correct facts! They pick their own numbers to make up to make them look good but it’s lies. This should not be allowed anywhere or at any time,” one complaint read.

“For the same reasons I was offended by the same billboard on Citylink, putting an enormous photo of someone’s dead horse on a billboard is inappropriate, tacky and pointless, this group are a self awareness organisation, they do nothing at all for the welfare of horses and misrepresent, slander, and defame the racing industry in any way they can get away with,” another said.

The group behind the board did not respond to the complaints.

The ASB dismissed the complaint as the board considered that “the image itself is not graphic for most people and that the advertisement needs to be confronting in order to get the message across”.

Complaints against Myer’s ‘Find Wonderful’ campaign arguing the female actor in the ad is a “poor role model for females” as she is “almost anorexic” were also dismissed by the board.

The brand film, created by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, features Tilda Cobham-Harvey and depicts Myer injecting fun and colour into a grey, practical world.

The complaint against the ad said: “The female in this ad is or almost anorexic and is a poor role model for females, she is setting a very dangerous image for females to feel “wonderful”. I cringe when I see the ad and feel she needs a good feed or hospitalisation.”

Myer reviewed the concerns raised by the complainant and said the “creative of the campaign was to be youthful and highlight the innocence in looking back to the wonderful memories of the good old fashion way of shopping in a department store”.

The retailer said Cobham-Harvey was cast because she possesses those characteristics.

“Although Tilda may appear to some audiences as being thin, she does not look unhealthy and images of Tilda in the TVC are consistent with similar fashion related advertising,” Myer said.

It also suggested that it is common in the fashion industry “to use models that are slimmer than the average person”.

In its ruling, while the board noted that the actress is “clearly slim” it was the board’s view that she appeared to be “healthy and not unhealthily skinny”.

The board also noted the ad did not make any reference to weight-loss or body image and considered that the term ‘wonderful’ was “clearly used in the context of the consumer goods which can be purchased at Myer”.

The complaint was dismissed.

Complaints against another Wicked Campervan slogan were also dismissed as for offence to be taken to the slogan in question required an adult level of understanding of the innuendo.

Complainants argued the slogan – ‘She can’t wrestle but you should see her box’ – objectify women, “diminishing women to their vulva or vagina rather than considering them as whole human beings”.

Further complainants suggested it was sexist as the “words humiliate and promote disrespect, diminishment of and disdain for women, which is sexist”.

Wicked Campers have had 14 complaints upheld against the brand this year.

Previous ASB rulings against Wicked Campers this year have included the slogans: “In every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once”, “Chuck Norris needs a monkey wrench and a blowtorch to masturbate”, “If you love God, burn a church” “Get out ya tits and we’ll call it quits”, “Fat girls are harder to kidnap“, “Does your asshole ever get jealous of the shit that comes out of your mouth?”,  “Shut the f#ck up Donny“, “God I’m Fucking Awesome”,  “I was in fuckin’ Nirvana dude. Dave Grohl“ and “Half of life is fucking up, the other half is dealing with it”.


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.