SBS’s ‘F*ck, That’s Delicious’ and ‘CU in the NT’ banned by ad watchdog; ‘BCF-ing’ fun is okay

The Ad Standards Board has cracked down on two advertising messages which allude to swearwords, banning a poster campaign for SBS’s new Viceland channel which features the word “F*ck” and also ruling against the “CU in the NT” Facebook page.

However, a third campaign for outdoor store BCF, which uses the phrase “BCF-ing fun” has been cleared by the ad watchdog.


Action Bronson – Advertising miscreant

In the complaint against Viceland, which took over the SBS2 channel from November 15, the ASB ruled against an ad for the food show F*ck That’s Delicious, fronted by rapper Action Bronson.

The ASB investigated after the new channel was promoted on a series of four billboards and a member of the public complained that the language was inappropriate for use where children could see it.


Defending the ad, SBS argued: “‘F*ck That’s Delicious’ is a television series which follows rapper and bon vivant, Action Bronson as he travels the world meeting like-minded pleasure-seekers and eating his fair share of food. The poster features Action Bronson, smiling (as if he’s just taken a bite of something nice), standing in the street in front of a menu board, holding a crepe, with the program title overlaid in white letters across the centre of the poster.

“The poster does not contain strong or obscene language. SBS understands that the word ‘fuck’ is considered to be strong and offensive to some people. However, while the word used in the poster alludes to the swear word, it does not refer to it in full. The impact of the word is lessened by the use of the asterisk in place of the ‘u’, and the context of the poster. The word is used in its colloquial sense, as an exclamation of pleasure. This is in keeping with the character of the program and the presenter. The phrase is not presented in an aggressive or sexual manner.”

However, the ASB ruled: “The Board noted that the asterisks did not obscure the meaning of the word, and in the context it was clear what the word was meant to be. The Board also noted that the name of the product being advertised was a television show called ‘F*ck, That’s Delicious’.

“The Board noted that it had previously upheld similar complaints about outdoor posters featuring the names of bands (‘Holy Fuck’ in case 0032/11, ‘Fuck the Reaper’ in case 0362/11 and ‘Starfuckers’ in case 0009/15).”

It added: “The Board considered that the advertisement did use strong, obscene or inappropriate language.”

It is not the first time that SBS has seen itself in controversy over outdoor posters. In 2013 SBS apologised for a “lapse of judgement” over a poster promoting its Studio channel which depicted a fictional British prime minister preparing to have sex with a pig in the TV drama Black Mirror. The episode was some two years before allegations emerged involving British Prime Minister David Cameron and a dead pig’s head.

Meanwhile, BCF’s boating, camping, fishing jingle, featuring the chorus “BCF-ing fun” has been cleared by the ASB.


Complainants told the ASB their children were singing along.

One said: “I have just heard my 7 year old son in the lounge watching the advertisement singing along to the tune using the lyrics BCFucking I appreciate the advertisement is a play on words but this has gone too far.”

Another said: “In our house we do not use the word fucking and you would have to be some sort of half wit not to know that F-ing is short for fucking. Children also of course no (sic) what this means.”

However, BCF argued: “The strategic position of the advertisement is intended, given the nature of the business, to broaden the appeal of boating, camping and fishing as a way for anyone to escape the humdrum of the working week. The specific execution through a jingle assists to create an infectious sense of joy for the outdoors and drive cut through by repeating the brand name BCF 5 times in 30 seconds.”

Noting that is has already dismissed complaints about previous BCF ads, the ASB ruled: “While the reference to a strong swear word is not to be encouraged, in the Board’s view the jingle is relevant to the brand name and the manner in which the language is used is not strong or obscene and is not inappropriate for children or adults.”

The ASB also investigated complaints about the Facebook page NT Official which, despite the name, is an unofficial site promoting NT-themed products with the slogan “CU in the NT”.

The site came to mainstream public attention in November after Mumbrella mistakenly reported the slogan was the work of NT Tourism, which was then widely reported by other media.


One complaint to the ASB said: “The word CUNT is extremely denigrating to women, and given the rise of domestic violence in Australia there is no excuse for using it at all let alone in an ad campaign. Its not funny or witty and is clearly designed to grab attention by getting people to look at an ad that says CUNT in bold letters.”

NT Official responded to the complaint saying: “Two days after launch, our campaign went viral after being reported in media specific publications such as Mumbrella. Mainstream media including the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, Fairfax and NewsCorp publications have since generated a much broader audience for our business and our products than any advertising material.

“As far as we are aware, the spoken phrase “CU IN THE NT” has been around for many years as have other phrases such as “CU next Tuesday”, all of which are forms of acronyms that play on the “C” word. In this sense, they are no different to all words and acronyms such as “WTF” and “LMFAO” which the ASB acknowledges do not constitute “offensive language” for the purposes of the Code.”

Citing the BCF case as precedent, it added: “Our aim in using the terms ‘CU IN THE NT’ was clearly not to cause offence, as we deliberately avoided the alignment of the relevant letters of the ‘C’ word.

“Instead, we have employed a catchy and humorous device to bring attention, by public discourse, to the wonders of the Northern Territory. As all of our paid advertisements were directed to users over the age of 18 years, we believe that there has been no inappropriate use of language.”

It warned: “In our view, it would be a very dangerous precedent to find that our ‘CU in the NT’ campaign amounted to a breach of the Code. By doing so, the Advertising Standards Board would be curtailing use of clever tactics designed to avoid offence and unnecessarily limit artistic creativity.

“Further, such a move would impose an overly strict moral view on a fine tradition of Australian humour and in particular the great tradition of the Aussie larrikin.”

However the ASB ruled: “The advertisement had been clearly designed to highlight letters to form a strong reference to the word ‘cunt’. The Board noted community standards research into language had shown that the community considered the ‘c-word’ to be obscene and not appropriate in advertising in any form.”

After the ruling, NT Official did not respond to the ASB. The organisation – which is funded by the ad industry and has no direct legal powers – said it would approach Facebook to try to get it taken down.


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