Telstra hermit crab advert under fire for ‘celebrating littering and consumerism’

Telstra has faced a barrage of complaints on social media and to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) that its latest TV ad, which depicts a crab finding an empty mobile phone box on a beach, trivialises littering.

The telco has been attacked on both Twitter and Facebook with several posts condemning the ad, which was created by DDB Sydney, as a “disgrace”. The ad promotes an option to upgrade your phone every 12 months.

The ASB also confirmed it has received 15 complaints about littering, but said they will not be considered by the board as “it does not fall under section 2 of the AANA Code of Ethics”.

In the 30-second ‘new phone feeling’ execution a man discards the packaging of a new phone, with an empty box dragged off by a hermit crab who uses it as its new home.

One Facebook post, from Helen Whitford, read: “Your New Phone Feeling ad is disgusting!!!!!!!!! You are promoting rampant consumerism, trashing the environment and seemingly celebrating the devastating effect litter has on wildlife. It’s just wrong all round! NOBODY needs a new phone every year! We shouldn’t be using resources and creating waste at that rate and we certainly don’t need to encourage people to trash the environment! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”

Another tirade, from Bull Fernhill, read: “What MORON thought that your new advert was a good idea??? Dumping phone packaging onto a beach? Wow, guys. Genius. Let’s encourage MORE pollution. You’re pathetic.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 11.58.20 AMWhile Ian Gilbert wrote: “Your new ad is a disgrace. It sums up how we are thoughtlessly killing our planet to provide for the endless consumption of worthless trinkets.”

On Twitter Aaron Venn suggested the ad should be withdrawn. “Making Beach litter a hoot with that new hermit crab ad. Might need to pull that ad”.

Telstra responded on social media to the criticism by saying the ad was intended to be “a humorous take on recycling”.

“We are absolutely committed to reducing our environmental impact,” the company wrote on both Facebook and Twitter. “Our plan offering mobile phone replacement requires customers to return their old phones in good condition and working order, so the devices can then be either refurbished and reused, used as parts or recycled.

“Approx 30% of our customers already get new phones ahead of their contract expiry date – this plan has actually been structured to allow customers who are already getting a new phone to do that through Telstra with a positive experience.”

Telstra had not responded to requests for comment at time of publication.

Steve Jones






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