Weis frozen treat ad not too tarty, says advertising watchdog

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Weis

The Advertising Standards Board has dismissed complaints that claimed a Facebook ad for a lemon frozen yogurt bar by Weis was degrading and irresponsible.

Read more: The 10 most complained about ads in 2015

The ad featured a Weis Lemon Delicious Frozen Yogurt bar wearing a dress made from a modified wrapper with the tag line “There’s a new tart in town”.

The tongue-in-cheek post was published on December 20 and was boosted by a $70 media spend to reach 8212 Facebook users, according to a report from the Advertising Standards Board.

In a statement to the board, Weis said the advertisement was “generally well received” with 463 consumers ‘liking’ this advertisement on Facebook and 32 people ‘sharing’ the content out of a total of 8212 views.

The complaints received by the Ad Standards Board slammed the depiction of an ice cream as a female with a short skirt and labelled a tart deeming in “degrading but also highly irresponsible”.

“In a country where people claim to respect women more than other notable countries, I fail to see how this conveys gender respect or appropriateness, particularly for younger persons,” one complainant said.

The complaints also argued that the bright and cheery nature of the post would attract the attention of children. Weis responded by saying the target audience was Australian Facebook users, aged 18 and over.

The board dismissed complaints against the ad, noting that although the word ‘tart’ is in larger font than the rest of the text, it is relevant to the flavour of the ice-cream – lemon tart – and therefore not inappropriate.

The board noted the word ‘tart’ in conjunction with a woman is relatively old-fashioned and considered that the overall tone of the advertisement is not demeaning or derogatory towards women but rather a play on words around the flavour of the ice-cream and the use of a wrapper styled like a dress.

Janey Paton, director of marketing and public relations agency Belles and Whistles, told SmartCompany brands often use humour as a way to cut through the clutter.

“I think there’s different levels of tongue-in-cheek and some brands push it further than others. I think it this case it’s meant to be cheeky,” she says.

“I think it’s really clever the way it’s done. I think it’s taking it a little bit far to say it’s insulting or degrading to women as it’s an ice-cream,”

However, Paton warns humorous campaigns are a riskier move for SMEs and says it’s important to remember you’re not going to please everyone.

“It’s important to do your research to understand their needs, wants and behaviour,” she says.

“It’s always a good idea to have a plan in place to combat any complaints particularly in this day and age with social media which is a medium for consumers to work out their opinions in real time.”

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Ronelle Richards is a former journalist at SmartCompany. She is currently studying a Masters of Journalism at The University of Melbourne and has previously worked as a journalist and photographer in rural newspapers.

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