Marketing

Out of Tune: online petition over Ultra Tune ad gets support from franchisees

Kirsten Robb /

Car service company Ultra Tune is the latest company to come under fire from an activist group over the sexualised nature of its ad campaigns, as a petition to remove the ads climbs close to 1100 signatures – including at least one from its own franchisees.

Collective Shout, activists who have previously hijacked promotions and criticised social media ad campaigns, are calling on Ultra Tune to withdraw an ad that features two rubber-clad dominatrix-style women to promote its tyres.

The woman who initiated the started the change.org petition, Jodie Swales, told SmartCompany she has received numerous emails of support from Ultra Tune franchisees and says at least one franchisee has told her they have personally signed the petition.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) had previously dismissed a number of official complaints against the ad, which shows one of the women with her face close to a tyre and the phrase “We’re into rubber”.

While the ad was named in the top 10 most complained about ads of the year, the watchdog found it did not breach the advertising code of ethics in the case.

Ultra Tune’s response to the ASB said the objective of the advertisement was to promote that customers can now purchase tyres from Ultra Tune stores.

“We refute the suggestion that it objectifies or degrades women,” said the company.

“At all times the women are fully clothed. The advertisement does not portray sex or sexual acts. The advertisement does not include any graphic nudity and there is no uncovered flesh.”

“In respect of the final scene with the tyres, the women are only admiring the tyres and are not engaged in any sexual act with those tyres.”

There have also been numerous complaints made on Ultra Tune’s Facebook page.

Swales says the complaints concern the unnecessary sexualisation of women, as well as the time slots the ads are shown in.

“There have been many comments from families who have viewed the ads, saying they are shown at inappropriate times for children,” says Swales.

She says she has received supportive emails from at least 15 Ultra Tune franchisees and has listed these on the petition page.

“I apologise for the ad, I have also told head office it is a terrible ad and degrading to women so I totally agree with you,” reads one email.

Another reads: “I could not agree with you more, as a Franchise owner I am appalled at the current advertising and complained to Ultra tune head office on day one.”

SmartCompany spoke to an employee of Ultra Tune who said they believed the ad was damaging the brand’s reputation.

Swales says Ultra Tune should pay attention to the support of the views of its franchisees.

“You’re hurting your own franchisees,” she says.

“We don’t want to persecute an individual business; we just say this isn’t the right way to advertise your product.”

Ultra Tune head office was contacted, but SmartCompany did not receive a response prior to publication.

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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.

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