‘Fail’ compilation ad by Ozmosis branded ‘irresponsible’ and banned by ad watchdog

Surf and skate brand Ozmosis has had its ‘Show us your scars’ ad – made up of a mixture of surfing and skating fails – censured for “encouraging and glorifying personal injury”.

The ad has been labeled as “irresponsible” as it encourages young people to “do stupid things and put themselves at risk and danger”.

The ad was the first work released from creative agency Ugly – consisting of TBWA Sydney ex ECD Gary McCreadie, Anomaly Amsterdam’s founding partner and CEO Hazelle Klonhammer, and M&C Saatchi’s former head of strategy Ross Berthinusse. 

As part of the ‘Show us your scars’ campaign, Ozmosis offered exclusive deals to anyone showing a scrape, bruise or scar to their store staff and encouraged people to upload a photo to social media with the hashtag #PayWithPain.

“This is encouraging and glorifying personal injury. It is completely irresponsible. Encouraging people to come into a store with injuries (potentially bleeding wounds) is also an OH & S issue for Ozmosis staff. I have looked at the website also and photos of peoples injuries are on display – I saw one image of what looked like a large scar from a cut wrist though a tattoo that says “Dreams” and the caption is ‘dreams slashed to pieces’,” one complaint wrote to the Ad Standards Board.

Responding to the complaint, Ozmosis said that ad does not “portray any behavior [sic] physical force by any individuals intended to hurt or kill someone or something”, arguing instead it encourages Australians to participate in action sports such as surfing or skateboarding.

Ozmosis added all the footage used was from existing content and the promotion was designed to reward participants who follow their passion.

The Advertising Standards Board noted the television commercial shows numerous people suffering accidents whilst surfing and skating – some of whom are wearing protective gear and others who are not.

In most of the fail scenes shown, viewers are not able to determine whether or not the person has been seriously injured or not as the footage moves on too quickly.

The ad watchdog concluded the overall message of the campaign is “one of harm” and the campaign glorifies risk-taking behaviours.

“The depiction of people hurting themselves in the interest of getting a deal is socially irresponsible and is not a positive message to be sending to the target demographic,” the Board said.

Upholding the complaint the ad watchdog found Ozmosis had created a direct link between pain and reward and there was uncertainty around whether the injury had to be old or new.

Ozmosis said it has now canceled any remaining TV media spend and the TV commercials ceased running on October 21.

A poster which shows a man in a wetsuit with a gash on his shoulder accompanied by the words “Pay with Pain Come in show us your scars. Get Deals #pay with pain” has also been banned.

The banned poster ad

Complaints stated: “This add demonstrates gross ignorance of the fact that young people are self-harming at higher rates than ever.

“The image of the injured man was enough to affect my very young cousin to the point of tears. I think it is a totally inappropriate campaign to run at all, and that it makes light of serious injuries and even encourages people to go out and hurt themselves for the chance to win money.”


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