Marketing

“Disgusted” and “horrified”: Viewers say Bingle’s computer-generated ape promotes animal cruelty

Kirsten Robb /

The Advertising Standards Board has dismissed a series of complaints over an ad featuring a computer-generated skydiving ape by car insurance company Bingle, which claim the TV commercial promotes animal cruelty.

The board received around nine complaints about the ad that features a CGI ape jumping out of an aeroplane while wearing a blindfold and using a laptop, which implies obtaining insurance is an easy task. Viewers suggested the ad both promoted animal cruelty and encouraged children to do dangerous stunts.

“I was so disgusted and felt sick after seeing this ad. A beautiful big ape was the star of the cruel ad,” read one complaint.

“I believe that it is demeaning to animals and might encourage unscrupulous types to use animals in a cruel fashion. I actually find this ad very distressing to the point of tears,” read another.

Other viewers said they were “horrified” and “highly offend[ed]” by the commercial, while another viewer complained there was no evidence provided to show the animals used for filming the ad were treated humanely.

In its response to the complaints, Bingle said the chimp was entirely computer generated by the same studio behind the Planet of the Apes movies.

“In all of these complaints it is expressly or impliedly evident that the viewer understood that Joni was not a real chimpanzee. This is important as Bingle would never participate in, or condone, the mistreatment of animals for the purposes of advertising,” said Bingle.

The company also said it had responded to a small number of inquires via its Facebook page as to whether or not the ape was real.

“Bingle wishes to stress the fact that current CGI technology today permits commercial advertisers and movie-makers to produce such amazing reproductions of animals, and that this should be considered a positive development as compared to the use of live animals.

In regards to the claims the ad encouraged children to emulate unsafe behaviour, Bingle said, “We would expect that any young children who view the TVC and raise questions or concerns with their caregiver would be advised that the TVC is entirely fictional.”

The watchdog agreed and dismissed the complaints, finding the ad was “clearly fantastical and unrealistic” and that most viewers “would recognise that it is not a real chimp parachuting or driving a motor vehicle”.

“The board acknowledged that due to the realistic nature of the computer generated chimp some members of the community could find the advertisement to be disturbing but considered that overall the advertisement does not depict, encourage or condone cruelty to computer generated animals,” said the watchdog.

Read more: The 10 most complained about ads in 2014

Michelle Gamble, marketing expert from Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany the board had made a sensible decision.

“They [Bingle] have done the right thing [by using a computer-generated image]. Ads need to be entertaining and it’s no different from an animated movie,” says Gamble.

“The only thing I can imagine that was an issue is how realistic it was, so they [Bingle] may decide to characterise it a bit more in the future,” she adds.

SmartCompany contacted Bingle but did not receive a response prior to publication.

The Bingle ad featuring the CGI skydiving chimpanzee

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.