Mental health jokes targeted by ad standards watchdog

The Advertising Standards Bureau has taken a stand against ads making light of people with mental health problems.  

The ASB found that a print ad for Rivers clothing which made fun of mood changes expeirnced by people with bipolar disorder breached its code of ethics, along with two TV ads for car insurance company Youi. The Youi ads touched on obsessive compulsive disorder.

The ASB’s CEO Fiona Jolly said of the Rivers ad: “The intention for the advertisement to be humorous did not excuse the fact that it satirises and ridicules a feature of a mental illness over which sufferers have no control.

On the Youi ad, Jolly said: “These advertisements played on obsessive compulsive disorder and the Board was quick to agree that both ads treated people with this condition with disrespect. The intention of the advertisements to depict, or at least make the audience think of people suffering from OCD, and the growing amusement of the presenter in the advertisement with the people’s actions, was likely to be seen as condescending, cause offence and demean.”


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