Dr Mumbo

Dumb ways to complain

Dr Mumbo’s favourite time of the month is when the Ad Standards Board reveals the complaints it has adjudicated on.

While the serious coverage goes to the stuff that’s been banned (just one so far this month), the comments of ‘ordinary’ members of the public make for far more entertaining reading.

Who, for instance, could be offended by the multi award winning campaign by McCann Melbourne for Metro Trains, Dumb Ways to Die?

Well, this guy…

Dumb ways to die

“We were waiting on the concourse for the lift to take her to platform 6 when she saw the image, started screaming, got out of the pram and ran away saying “I don’t like that!” She was petrified and we needed to calm her down. On the train home she stated “I do not want to see scary pictures” and “I don’t want to take the train anymore”. I am also against many of the images in this advertising campaign. They are disturbing and violent images of death/ torture/ suicide camouflaged behind cute cartoon characters.

Then come people who have a problem with Kotex’s war on crotch sweat.

“I feel repulsed by this ad,” one viewer told the ASB. “There are at least 4 different women doing exercises with big wet patches in their crotch.  I don’t need to have women’s wet crotches gyrating in my face while I’m eating dinner, or just enjoying one of my programs. Please get rid of this ad.”

Nature’s Own fish oil capsules advertised by outdoor survivor Bear Grylls was also not for the faint-hearted as the television commercial shows him eat a raw fish.

It is one thing to promote a vitamin tablet and another to eat a live fish to promote healthy living,” a viewer complained. “It is also a cruel death for the fish. This was shown during the block when young and I impressionable children are watching. I have also sent an email to nature’s own expressing my concerns.”

“I was offended because bear grills eats the raw fish which you see him do and rip the fish in his mouth and my young children looked horrified at it. It’s an awful advert – should not be on pre watershed.”

An online ad for Clearasil that claims clear skin needs a “kickass” daily cleansing routine also caused offence:

We feel that if we don’t put in a complaint, then it will be just another form of ‘ass’ – that becomes ‘Mainstream’ – acceptable in society,” a complainant said.

It’s hard to imagine how a picture of Donut King’s new ‘Amazeballs’ presented on a chopping board could be offensive, but it was. Deeply. 

The ad described graphic and onomatopoeic generated the following complaints:

“If it was an appropriate ad, why wasn’t it shown in daytime viewing? Why was it on late at night? Why were there only two of these balls? In the company blog, they suggest they are balls, but in a different blog they are likened to “balls”- yes “testicles”. Oh puh-lease!

Can we please set some standards? Some class!! I for one am sick of seeing tits bums, bumps & grinds, and inappropriate adverts or music/video clips/songs with a huge amount of sexualisation and sexual street-talk.

“The donuts are clearly positioned to look like breasts. The jam is oozing out so it appears like nipples, which jam donuts do not usually appear like in my experience. This ad is offensive to me & I’m sure countless others.”

“I do not like the way the product is displayed on a plate/board to represent two breasts with nipples!! It is not right that a donut company is resorting to not so subtle sexual innuendo to sell a donut!!”

A Smith’s television commercial showing a couple flirting over a bag of crisps while alone by a riverside shows a woman encourage the man to strip down and go swimming while she takes off on his motorbike with the bag of crisps. The advertisement drew the following complaints:

“The thrust of the advertisement is a woman approaching a lone male in a remote location. Male is eating chips. Woman is scantily dressed and entices the male to follow her while she appears to be undressing. The male removes his shirt, both male and female are very attractive and there is an obvious sexual theme in the advertisement. The woman appears to encourage the male to swim partially nude in a river, he does so but realises he’s been tricked and the woman steals his chips and his motor cycle leaving him alone and without transport. 

My problem? They are selling chips. Potato chips, a snack food. We know little about the product, the price, the availability, the health implications. We do, however, know all about the sexuality of these chips and the physical attributes of the chip eaters. Imagine for a moment if the roles were reversed. A male approaches a young woman in a remote location, tricks her into thinking she’ll receive sex and then steals her transport and food and leaves her alone in a remote location.Why is this acceptable advertising in 2013? 

A television commercial for Goodyear and Dunlop tyres in which somebody sounding like comedian Billy Connolly says, “I was driving through the bush when something was going down on me,” as a man stands with his back to the audience while someone is kneeling in front of him, brought this complaint:

“It is far too sexually explicit. I am deeply offended by it and if I had young children would not want them to see it at all. This ad seriously disgusts me!!”

One of two TV ads for real estate Broadway Homes that say “life is better on the second storey” suggests a woman who appears to be conservative has another side to her at home brought the following complaints:

“I was very offended at the thought of bondage being advertised in order to promote a house. I telephoned Broadway Homes and spoke to a gentleman called xxxx and explained how I felt. Rather than apologise to me that it caused me offence, he spent the whole time telling me that ‘intelligent’ people would realise that it was a tongue-in-cheek, non-gratuitous ad and was not ‘real’. This ad promotes bondage.”

Another said: “It included a female apparently inviting a male to participate in a sexual encounter that involved the use of handcuffs and a whip. What next? A female with beautiful teeth giving fallacious (sic) to a male in order to sell a particular brand of toothpaste? Surely we can advertise our products without resorting to the use of pornographic imagery and at a time when children are watching TV.”


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