The volume and ferocity of complaints made against TV adverts for personalised number plate firm MyPlates “rocked our socks off”, its chief executive has said, as he admitted he will think twice over the content of future campaigns.
Daryl Head said he was “upset” that the commercials sparked such controversy, with the Australian Standards Bureau receiving more than 350 complaints for the three executions, although some are likely to be duplicates.
Head revealed he has already been informed by the ASB that the complaints have been dismissed, adding: “We haven’t done anything wrong or breached any code of conduct.”
The ads which generated complaints in the firm’s “man proof your car” campaign showed one man breaking wind and another picking his nose. Three new ads, again the work of Custom Creative, will begin this weekend.
Head insisted he did not set out to offend and claimed some of those lodging complaints have been abusive.
“The ferocity of the complaints has been quite upsetting. They are abusive, and the young ladies handling the complaints for me have been offended. That has rocked our socks off,” he said.
“I don’t intend to offend and the ads are not designed to get complaints and get people upset. They are designed to be funny.”
Head acknowledged that while it will make him re-evaluate future material, people who do complain must realise they cannot simply demand something that they find offensive be removed.
“It has to make you stop and think. Any company that gets feedback and arrogantly ignores it is in trouble, so we are are not going to do that and dismiss the complaints,” he said
“Complain by all means because it does have an impact and it has impacted my thinking about how we move forward. But complainants need to be aware that their opinion is not a greater opinion than another person who might find the ads amusing.
“I don’t think people are too sensitive, that’s not for me to judge, but it is incredibly difficult to do anything in society in a public forum that does not get a complaint. That is something we have to understand as marketers and work out a way of dealing with that. If everything was taken off air that we got a complaint about then there would be a lot of white noise out there.”
He added that as MyPlates is dealing with a government product, the public expect a higher moral standard. “We seem to trip people up easier,” he said.
Head rejected suggestions the MyPlates brand would be damaged, arguing that those who are offended by the ads are not its target audience.
“The people who are complaining from a personality perspective don’t buy our plates. Our audience is humorous, out there, extroverted and brave and these people are not in that personality group,” he said.
It is not the first time Head has courted controversy, with MyPlates ads last year which showed a man in his back yard “showing a bit of bum crack” receiving complaints.
“It seems that everything I do people complain,” he said. “We have three new ads starting at the weekend and it will be interesting to see what happens.”
The ASB declined to confirm the ads have been cleared when approached for comment by Mumbrella.