The advertising watchdog has dismissed a complaint about an advertisement for Sanitarium Food Company’s UP&Go breakfast drink range, despite one shop owner claiming the ad showed “disrespect”.
In the advertisement, a young man is lining up at the counter of a convenience store with an iced coffee in hand.
A man dressed as a football coach bursts in, loudly blowing a whistle and criticising the man for his choice in drink.
The coach then grabs the iced coffee and throws it against a fridge, with milk spraying everywhere.
In the complaint to the board, the viewer stated the advertisement “shows disrespect for the shop owner and leaves a mess”.
“If he did that to my store I would kick him out after I made him clean up the mess and would discourage boy from playing with such an ill mannered coach,” the complainant said.
The complaint was filed against section 2.3 of the advertising industry code, which covers violence and vandalism/hooliganism.
Sanitarium responded to the complaint, stating the ad should be viewed as “tongue in cheek”, and the advertisement is “clearly over the top”.
“The performance of the sports coach is deliberately and clearly exaggerated for comedic effect, playing on the well-known stereotype of the overzealous sports coach or teacher, which most viewers will recognise,” the company said.
“Regarding the complainant’s specific concern regarding the mess, we note that the aftermath of the action of throwing the bottle is not shown in the advertisement.
“The advertisement does not imply in any way that the sports teacher left the mess behind, as the mess itself is only briefly depicted in the advertisement and the clean-up left to the viewer’s imagination.”
While the Advertising Standards Board said “throwing a drink inside a convenience store is not behaviour which should be encouraged”, it ruled the commercial did not breach any areas of the code.
Daniel Derrick, general manager of marketing for Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing told SmartCompany Sanitarium considers and adheres to industry codes of practices when producing all of its advertising.
“We are obviously satisfied with the decision of the Advertising Standards Board, particularly as it notes that the advertisement is tongue-in-cheek,” Derrick says.
“With this UP&Go advertisement, we aimed to create something light-hearted and humorous that would entertain our target audience. It was never intended to be a serious portrayal of normal and acceptable behaviour and we are pleased that the Advertising Standards Board concurs.
“Rest assured, our crew on set left the shop spotlessly clean when filming wrapped.”
Marketing expert Michelle Gamble, from Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany these sorts of advertisements are unlikely to actually influence viewer’s actions.
“Consumers know advertising is not reality, and they’re typically not created to influence that sort of behaviour,” Gamble says.
Gamble says the public do not hesitate to call out violence in ads, but usually only with products that could cause harm.
“With an ad for something like gambling for instance, we’re seeing more people speak out, especially now its easier to than ever,” Gamble says.
“This is not a bad thing, as it keeps makers of products accountable and keeps companies transparent.”
For businesses that might be creating advertisements, and want to make sure they wont receive complaints, Gamble says testing is key.
“Big brands always do focus groups for advertising, and there’s no reason smaller companies can’t do it too,” Gamble says.
“Show your target market, or just show your family members, but make sure you get top of mind, gut-feeling responses from them.”