Ooh Media pulls pro-Palestine billboard following 20 complaints to ad watchdog

A pro-Palestine billboard in Melbourne has been taken down by Ooh Media pending further decisions by the Ad Standards Board, legal experts and other authorities on whether the controversial ad breaches national advertising standards and rules.

The billboard, which was located in Melbourne’s Southbank, featured images of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu under the slogan “Apartheid: Wrong In South Africa. Wrong in Palestine”, and a quote from Mandela: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” and a quote from Tutu: “Gaza is going to test who believes in the worth of human beings”.

Ooh Media Palestine Billboard

PHOTO: Australians for Palestine Advocacy Group Facebook page

However, the ASB told Mumbrella the billboard has received about 20 complaints but as the ad is about a social issue it falls under the ad watchdog’s political advertising definition and consequently the board will not be considering the complaints.

At the end of last week Ooh Media which owns the billboard site in Melbourne, released a statement explaining the decision, noting that prior to its display it had been reviewed against national advertising rules and standards and Ooh and the industry body the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) “took the view that it met them”.

The statement said: 

“The advertisement displayed had been subject to a review against national advertising rules and standards, and we and the industry body, the Outdoor Media Association (OMA), took the view that it met them.

“However as soon as we were made aware of concerns, we immediately sought advice from other relevant third parties and took what we believe is the most appropriate action.

“This morning we suspended the display of the advertisement, pending further determinations from the Advertising Standards Board (ASB), legal experts and other authorities.”

Ooh Media has declined to comment further.

The OMA confirmed to Mumbrella it had provided “copy advice” on the image last month on the basis of whether it would breach the AANA Code of Ethics section 2.1, which covers how advertising and marketing communications shall not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual preference, religion, disability, mental illness or political belief.

“While we acknowledged that there was likely to be community concern and complaints about this image, we did not believe it would be likely to breach the Code,” OMA CEO Charmaine Moldrich told Mumbrella.

On the decision to pull the ad, she said: “I believe they (Ooh Media) were concerned with the safety of the site as well as wanting to consult more broadly about the issue as it has obviously stirred a lot of community feedback.”

The ad was placed by Australians for Palestine with an intended run of 28 days. Australians for Palestine did not respond to request for comment.

The ad has been replaced with a billboard for Coopers Brewery Sparkling Ale.

Miranda Ward

Disclaimer: Ooh Media is currently advertising in Mumbrella’s daily email newsletter. 


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