A Youfoodz ad that was changed after orders from Australia’s advertising watchdog last month has garnered 30 times more complaints than those considered in the original case, after the company bleeped out a pretend swear word.
The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) upheld five complaints against the campaign for the meal delivery service from September, which featured a child Gordon Ramsay lookalike saying the company’s meals were “un-forking believable”.
“How long do you think this took me to cook? What? Try two forking minutes,” the child says in the original version of the ad.
Complainants claimed the pseudo-swear word was a “clear reference to the term ‘fucking’” and said the ad was “inappropriate for the timeslot”.
“On two seperate [sic] occasions the young boy used the word forking (to replace fucking) to the extent where my wife and I were convinced he had actually said fucking,” one complaint read.
The advertisement was found to be in violation of sections of Australia’s advertising code of ethics relating to inappropriate language in ads, and the Youfoodz said they had created a modified version to run on TV and on social networks.
However, the Advertising Standards Bureau has confirmed to SmartCompany the modified version of the ad has already received around 170 complaints, with Youfoodz choice to bleep out all uses of the term “fork” apparently causing more offence.
The updated version of the ad will be considered at the bureau’s next board meeting, and in a statement to Mumbrella, Youfoodz said it was working with the regulator.
“We are currently running a modified version of the ad and are working closely with the Advertising Standards Bureau to determine our next steps,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Speaking to SmartCompany, advertising expert and academic at theUniversity of Melbourne, Dr Lauren Rosewarne, says the bleeping of “forking” defeats the purpose of the ad, and “actually makes things worse”.
“In a spoken ad, rather a written one, mistaking “forking” for an expletive is effortless and, in fact, encouraged. The riff on Gordon Ramsay doesn’t make any sense unless audiences detect the near-swear,” she says.
“On this occasion, the bleeping actually makes things worse. In the original version, the claim was that the boy was saying “forking” – through bleeping the wordplay isn’t there, and the ad becomes only about the swearing.”
Rosewarne says both viewers and the standards board have a greater tolerance for what she calls “Clayton’s swearing – the swearing you have when you’re not quite swearing” and believes advertisers should be aware of this.
“Advertisers need to think about where their ad will be placed. If it’s targeted to a broad all-age audience, any steps towards swearing are going to be viewed more harshly than a restricted-audience advertisement,” she says.
Youfoodz did not respond to requests for further comment prior to publication.