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‘Menacing and threatening’ ad condemned by ad watchdog for using domestic violence against men to sell hearing aids

The advertising watchdog has denounced a “menacing and threatening” television commercial advertising hearing aids for its depiction of domestic violence towards men.

The ‘What your mum wants for Mother’s Day’ 15-second TV ad features a woman trying to open a jar while yelling at her husband for help. When her husband fails to reply because he cannot hear, the ad freezes while she insinuates she is going to throw the jar in his direction.

‘What your mum wants for Mother’s Day’ finishes with the slogan “Get your mum what she really wants for Mother’s Day, a hearing test for your dad”.

The Clarity Hearing Solutions ad was deemed unjustifiable in the context of a hearing solution by the Advertising Standards Board.

“The Board noted the serious community concern relating to domestic violence and violence in general and considered that the advertisement did not portray violence in a manner that was justifiable in the context of a hearing solution.

“The suggested humour was not very strong. In the Board’s view, the overall tone was one that was menacing and threatening,” the ASB stated.

Clarity Hearing Solutions stood by the Mother’s Day advertisement saying, “We find it incredulous that someone could take offence at this ad” and the script had light-hearted intentions.

“When scripting and workshopping it within our team, and sharing the script and even the final product, not one person raised an issue thinking that this in any way depicted domestic violence either as a depiction or as a suggestion.

“The woman, while being seen to lift her hand to throw the jar, is not seen throwing the jar. There is no injury inflicted. Nor is the threat made to the man in the ad itself either. It’s a visual show of frustration behind his back. The movement illustrates and reflects the frustration often felt by significant others,” the company rebutted.

“We do take this complaint very seriously. Domestic violence is a big issue in Australia and we certainly did not intend in any way to make light or take advantage of it. Some commentators have stated that we did it to get attention or to be renegade. We hope anyone who has seen the ad can tell that was not the intent. Depicting the frustration felt by the loved ones of people with hearing loss is difficult but important in allowing all parties to understand that hearing loss not only affects the person with the loss but also the people around them. In this instance the ASB feels we got it wrong and we will certainly abide by that decision.”

The company also suggested its budget was tight and the whole ad, including production and air time, only cost $3,500.

The ad ran for 13 days leading up to Mother’s Day and was cancelled on the May 13, one day after the complaint and when the advertisement was due to finish airing.

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