‘Don’t be a dickhead or a redhead will get his wings’ road safety ads are cleared

Vic Roads’ controversial “Don’t Be A Dickhead” road safety campaign has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Board despite an avalanche of complaints.

Many of the complaints focused on the fact that redheads were made figures of fun in the series of ads.

The ads, which went online in April, were created by Downwind Productions’ Dan Ilic who was also a presenter of ABC1’s Hungry Beast.

The ASB considered the complaints about the ads in April, but its decision to clear the ads has gone unreported up to now. The ruling said:

“The Board noted considerable complaint concern that the suggestion of red headed people being born or procreating was undesirable and that the advertisement’s message on these issues was discriminatory and vilifying of red headed people.”

But it added: “the Code does not refer to hair colour or physical attributes of a person and considered that having red hair is not a disability. The Board considered that, although the Code does not specifically refer to hair colour, the advertisement does refer to a section of the community and that the suggestion about that sector of the community is negative. The Board considered however that the situations depicted were so incongruous with the road safety message of the advertisement, they would be considered by most people not to be a serious suggestion that red headed people are undesirable.”

The board also found that the “don’t be a dickhead” message was acceptable terminology because it was a message intended for distribution online rather than on broadcast media. It said: “The Board considered that use of the term may be considered strong in mainstream media but noted that this advertisement is not designed or intended for mainstream media broadcast – rather it is for distribution through the internet and viral messaging.”

June 30 update:

In a second ruling, the ASB also cleared an ad for Cup-a-Soup featuring a red haired memeber of staff known as “ginger ninja”.

It ruled: “The Board considered that most members of the community would be able to clearly understand the advertisement’s depiction of each individual and take a humorous approach to the advertisement.”


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