Woman elbowing snoring husband was domestic violence, says Ad Standards Board

The Advertising Standards Board has upheld a complaint that an ad for a sleep clinic depicted scenes of domestic violence, by showing a woman repeatedly hitting her partner in reaction to his snoring.

An excerpt of the complainant’s comments about the ad for Sleep Clinics Albury and Wodonga said: “In these sensitive times, I find this offensive as the woman’s behaviour demeans, humiliates, embarrasses and physically abuses her partner. Had the roles been portrayed in reverse, where the woman had sleep issues and the man elbows his partner and gets pushed out of bed, there would have been an out cry over violence against women.”

The ads cuts between different scenes of the man snoring whilst asleep and his partner’s reaction. When he dozes off in a cinema the woman elbows the man in the ribs, and at home she pushes him out of bed resulting in him hitting his head on the floor.

A voiceover narrates the scenes “On edge? Bruised ribs?… Slight concussion?… These are some of the symptoms which could lead to serious consequences. Public ridicule.”

The narration concludes “These too are symptoms which could lead to serious consequences… so save yourself and your loved one.”

The Ad Standards panel considered whether the ad was in breach with Section 2.3 of the advertising code which states ‘Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not present or portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised.”

The decision rested on the fact the man in the ad reacted negatively, as if he had been injured, when being hit in the ribs and the severity of concussion, referenced in the voice over. This suggested that the man was suffering due to the actions of his partner, subsequently appearing more like scenes of abuse as opposed to a slap stick depiction of violence.

The ruling stated:

The Panel considered that the depiction of someone being in pain and the suggestion that they could be suffering due to the actions of another person could not be considered a slap stick depiction of violence.

The Panel noted that there is significant community concern relating to the issue of domestic violence, and that a depiction of a woman physically abusing her partner was in contrast with this concern. The Panel noted that the basic premise of the advertisement relating to a snoring partner is a common scenario in many homes however the Panel considered that the depiction of the woman resorting to physical  harm on her partner to address this common matter is not in line with prevailing community standards.”

The sleep clinic did not respond to the original complaint but said after the ruling that the ad had been removed.


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