The advertising watchdog has struck down an advertisement for lawn turf after members of the public complained it depicted bullying and violence.
The ad, produced for lawn company Sir Walter Premium Lawn Turf, displayed a man being abandoned by family and friends over his choice of grass.
The man is depicted entertaining friends and family at a barbecue in his backyard when a friend throws grass in his face, disappointed the grass is not “DNA certified Sir Walter”.
His party guests abruptly leave, and the man is left standing while a talking sausage berates him over his choice of lawn.
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A number of complaints were made about the ad, all relating to its portrayal of bullying and peer pressure.
“In a time when we are trying to stop bullying we allow this ‘bully’ to physically violate this man in such a derogatory way that all the guests leave the party, the host is left depressed, the bully glorified,” one person told the Advertising Standards Board.
“Shoving grass in someone’s mouth is not acceptable for any reason.”
In response to the complaints, the company said the ad portrays an unrealistic scenario.
“The behaviour depicted in the ad was intended to be seen as stylised, in that it is part of an overall humorous, and totally unrealistic situation, including party guests fleeing because of the host’s choice of turf, and a talking sausage,” the company said.
The allure of talking sausages did not impress the board, who ruled the ad be modified to remove the grass-throwing scene.
“The overall tone of the advertisement was intended to be humorous, but considered that the scene of the grass being pushed into the man’s mouth and face was confronting and not justifiable in the context of promoting a variety of lawn,” the board ruled.
SmartCompany contacted Sir Walter Premium Lawn Turf for comment, but was referred to Louder Than Words – the agency that produced the ad on behalf of the business.
In a statement, Louder Than Words told SmartCompany the ad will be modified following the ruling.
“We never intended to portray bullying or violence, it was a bit of slapstick and comedy, however the violence was too realistic,” the agency said.
A modified version of the ad will be aired within the next fortnight, according to the agency.