Optus, Honey Birdette, Doordash ruled to have breached Ad Standards

The latest round of determinations from the Ad Standards Community Panel found that advertising by Singtel Optus, Honey Birdette, and Doordash all breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics.

An advertisement by Optus featuring a forklift operator navigating a forklift drew complaints on the safe operation of such heavy machinery.

A sample of comments provided by Ad Standards about the ad for Optus’ Business Connect Plans, which ran across on-demand television, suggested: “A forklift should never be driven in this manner. It is extremely dangerous to leave the forks in the air as it could cause an accident. Forks should always be lowered to the ground.

“This is not how a forklift should be operated for safety reasons.”

In its initial response, Optus said the ‘Plant Nursery Advertisement’, which was created by TBWA, was reviewed and approved by the Optus legal team. Optus denied the scenario depicted shows unsafe operation of the forklift.

“As noted, the intention behind the Plant Nursery Advertisement is to provide a visual representation of a business person being in ‘control,’ to link to the concept of businesses being in control of their telco plans with Optus,” the telco said.

Optus said the ad does not depict any behaviours outlined in a fact sheet published by Safe Work NSW, and noted the driver remains in control of the forklift at all times and bystanders are a safe distance from the lift.

“Optus submits that this portion of the ad does not show any practices that would be considered unsafe.”

The panel then considered the advertiser’s response, but noted that several aspects of the ad including that the forklift is being driven at excessive speed and the forks of the forklift being higher off the ground than recommended, were unsafe.

As a result, the complaint was upheld and Optus was found to have breached prevailing community standards on health and safety. Optus made several amendments to the ad in its final response.

Meanwhile, lingerie brand Honey Birdette has fallen foul of Ad Standards again. The AANA received complaints about the brand’s recent campaign, which included “it was sexually suggestive and I could see her vagina,” and “Nobody should be subjected to specialised images in public spaces. Particularly not visible genitalia.”

Additional complaints noted that the campaign video, which was visible in Honey Birdette shopfront windows, should not be viewed by children.

Honey Birdette responded to the complaints by noting: “It is never our intent to create controversy and they couldn’t be further away from being ‘porn’ style videos. We are a company run by woman, for women, who believe firmly in female empowerment.”

The brand also noted that the complaint was made by a person known to them and suggested they had been targeting staff at Honey Birdette Broadway in Sydney.

The Panel determined that the advertisement did not treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience and did breach the code regarding sexuality and nudity.

Finally, an advertisement from food delivery service Doordash was found to be in breach of the AANA Code relating to health and safety standards.

An ad, which ran on Snapchat and is no longer available, depicted a phone sitting on the ledge of a vehicle display screen, with no method of attachment. Complaints around the ad pointed out that the advertisement promoted using a mobile phone without a mount while driving.

The panel noted that while it wasn’t clear how the phone was staying in position, it appeared to be balanced on the indent of a screen in the dashboard.

While the driver was not seen to touch or interact with the phone, it was noted that the phone was clearly displaying a map to aid navigation. The panel then gave examples of how using a phone while a vehicle is not parked, without a mounting affixed to the vehicle, broke laws in states across Australia.

As a result, it was determined that the advertisement did contain material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety, and therefore was in breach of the code. The complaint was upheld.

The advertiser did not respond to the panel’s determination.


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