List of complaints against Beyond Blue campaign dismissed by ASB

Complaints that a Beyond Blue campaign raising awareness around Indigenous Australians mental illness was racist towards white people have been dismissed by the Ad Standards Board.

The campaign, created by independent agency Marmalade, visually represents the actions of non-Indigenous people through a character dressed in black who influences their behaviour when interacting or near Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Complaints against the campaign – which ran for over five pages in the ASB’s case study of the findings – argued the ad only depicted “‘white’ people” as those vilifying the Indigenous people represented in the campaign.

They suggested the ad is “reverse racism”, arguing that “white Australian’s aren’t the only race in Australia that bully and racially victimise others”.

The complainants argued that the ads “marginalise Aboriginals”, and even suggest the Australian population will learn the behaviour from seeing it in the campaign.

Beyond Blue defended the campaign, saying the intention was “to draw attention to the hurtful and harmful discrimination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

“This campaign targets non-Indigenous men and women who do not consider themselves to be racist and who want to be seen as tolerant, however they may believe negative stereotypes, tell racist jokes or make insensitive or offensive comments out of fear, ignorance or habit,” it said.

They continued: “Our intention is not to deride, or encourage discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or any other group of Australians including ‘white’ Australians.”

Beyond Blue said the campaign was designed to “make people question their behaviour”.

In its ruling, the board noted the ad uses “Indigenous people as an identifiable category of people in order to base the overall theme and purpose of the campaign”.

As the board noted that the “focal point” of the ad is the Indigenous people “and the focus of seeing what an Indigenous person feels”, the perpetrators are “incidental” and it was the board’s view that there was “not a negative view of ‘Caucasians” but rather only a negative perception of unconscious discrimination.

The complaints were dismissed.


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.