Burger chain Grill’d has been slapped on the wrist by the Advertising Standards Board over a series of posters that highlighted the letters S-H-I-T.
The posters, which appeared at Grill’d stores, were designed to promote the takeaway chain’s schnitzel range.
The ads were accompanied with the words “The Good ScHnITzel”, with the letters S-H-I-T capitalised so they stood out.
One person complained to the advertising watchdog, arguing the word “shit” was not appropriate in a public space.
“It says ‘SHIT’ on it in big letters in a public area,” the person wrote.
“I actually went to the original Doncaster food court store yesterday … not only is the original small poster there, but they’ve added two giant ones. The CBD restaurant (which is at least slightly less public than a food court) has it on printed menus, on the light up menu board, they’ve clearly gone all in on their Shitburger campaign.”
In response to the complaint, Grill’d said the posters were designed to promote its chicken schnitzel range.
“They are internal posters within Grill’d restaurants and we do not believe it is overtly offensive,” Grill’d told the advertising watchdog.
“We have received (excluding this example) not a single complaint from our thousands of customers we serve each week. All advertising outside of premises was removed (as previously explained) months ago.”
The advertising watchdog considered the word “shit” to be part of the Australian vernacular, and thought most people would not find it strong or obscene.
However, the board upheld the complaint on the grounds the word in question did not relate directly to the product being advertised.
“The board noted, however, that the use of the word ‘SHIT’ in this instance has no relevance to the advertised product and considered that its prominent display within areas popular with families amounts to a depiction of language which is not appropriate in the circumstances,” the board ruled.
In its ruling, the watchdog noted Grill’d had not responded immediately to the decision.
“The ASB will continue to work with the advertiser to seek compliance with the board’s determination,” the board said.
The watchdog dismissed the complaint as far as it related to Grill’d’s menu boards, however, saying they fell outside its jurisdiction.
A spokesperson for Grill’d confirmed to SmartCompany this morning the posters in question are no longer in circulation.
“Grill’d has complied with this request and those restaurants to which this applies have been instructed to remove these items with immediate effect,” the spokesperson said in a statement.