Mars’ naked mum ad deemed ‘morally wrong’ in complaint to ad watchdog

A complaint made to the ad watchdog about the morality of Mars Bar Australia’s recent life drawing ad has been dismissed.

The campaign, created by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, features a boy in a life drawing class who realises the life model in front of him is his naked mother.

The complaint centred around the morality of being forced to draw a naked parent.

“My teenage child was offended as was I that any offspring should have to draw their parent nude,” it said.

“But to think the mother then comes and tells the offspring they have done a good job drawing her nude is a disgrace. This is morally wrong and children/offspring should not be around their parents naked – at any age.”

In its response to the complaint, Mars contends: “The complaint does not appear to be concerned about any actual nudity featured in the advertisement, of which there is very little… The setting of the advertisement is a life drawing class, and this respect there is nudity alluded to and very brief vision is shown of the model removing her gown, however, her buttocks, nipples and genital regions are not shown.”

Mars claims the ads’ creators “were very careful in terms of what was actually shown within the advertisement. There is no nudity for nudity’s sake.”

Mars goes on to explain how the nature of the ad is “light-hearted and jovial”, and “the reference is not in any way sexualised and there is certainly no sexual innuendo, simply a reference to the awkward situation in which a young male student finds himself in a life drawing class with his mother as the model.”

In its determination, the panel noted that the complainant’s main concern appeared to relate to the moral implications of a parent being naked in front of their child, rather than the actual nudity featured in the advertisement.

“The panel noted that it is not the role of the panel to make a determination based on moral or ethical issues, only on the actual content of the advertisement and whether it complies with the code,” it said.

“The panel noted that some members of the community may be uncomfortable with the representation of nudity in the advertisement, however considered that the level of nudity was mild and was not inappropriate for a broad audience which may include children.”

The panel determined that the advertisement did treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity and did not breach Section 2.4 of the code, which states: “Advertising or Marketing Communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience.”


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