Kayo’s footy campaign breached Ad Standards’ rules about violence and safety

Kayo’s winter sports marketing push caught the attention of Ad Standards, after complaints made to the industry watchdog claimed the ads displayed dangerous behaviour, violence and vandalism.

The ‘Nowhere is safe from footy’ campaign consisted of two spots, the first of which saw AFL player Sam Walsh take a mark off the back of Dion Prestia and land in a crate of lettuces at a supermarket, and the second showing NRL player Alex Glenn tackling Luke Keary through the glass panelling of a bus shelter.

Three cases were made against the campaign, as the spots appeared across social media, free-to-air TV and on demand.

Complainants in all three cases shared the same concerns, with one stating that the lack of reaction from the woman in the NRL-focussed spot alluded to domestic violence, and the tampering of the lettuces in the AFL spot would upset disadvantaged people who are short of food.

“Does the woman sitting quietly, not reacting, give the message that women should accept whatever men care to dish out to them, including violence? Is food to be regarded as a game, rather than something that is necessary to sustain life? What would people short of food think about that? Why didn’t the people commissioning the ad substitute two women players for the males? I am deeply offended and object strongly to this ad,” the complainant wrote.

In its defence of the campaign, Foxtel, the owner of Kayo, said the concept of the campaign was “that no matter where you are or what you are doing, nowhere is safe from footy” because customers are able to stream the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership Season and the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season no matter where they are. The appearance of the football players in public places was a representation of that, it explained.

With regards to the woman sitting in the bus shelter, Foxtel pointed out that sports commentary can be heard coming from her phone, which matches up with the actions of the NRL players.

The Ad Standards community panel noted Foxtel’s defence that the ads are “unrealistic and fanciful”, and considered that the acts of taking a mark or completing a tackle are inherent parts of the sports being promoted through Kayo. However, as significant damage to property in a public place as displayed as a result of the actions, as opposed to being on-field, both were deemed as acts of violence.

The panel concluded: “The violence depicted at the bus stop and in the shopping centre, even though there were not adverse consequences, was a depiction of violence that is not relevant to the product promoted.”

Concerns about the woman’s safety were dismissed by the panel, as violence did not take place towards her. The issue of damage to food was also not discussed as it is not an issue that falls under the AANA code.

Despite the ‘fantastical’ concept of the campaign being clear to the panel, it decided that the scenes of the campaign took place in realistic setting where behaviour displayed by the players would be unacceptable. In addition, the panel was concerned that as the players were seen not to obtain any injuries from their actions it could lead young viewers to believe it could be recreated without harm to themselves. Consequently, the panel ruled this was “contrary to prevailing community standards on safety”.

Finding that the campaign did breach the code, the complaints were upheld. However, the campaign had already concluded at the time of Ad Standards’ ruling.


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