Radio Hauraki billboard ruled offensive

Radio Hauraki hosts Mikey Havoc and Matt Heath. Photo / File / Dean Purcell
Radio Hauraki hosts Mikey Havoc and Matt Heath. Photo / File / Dean Purcell

Complaints about an offensive billboard and an advertorial focusing on fluoride in drinking water have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, but grizzles about a distracting chocolate bar and a racist stereotype have been rejected.

The billboard for Radio Hauraki was located in central Auckland and featured a number of the station's hosts.

One of them had extended his middle fingers on both hands as a gesture to the viewer. The complainant said the gesture was offensive.

The high visibility of the billboard also meant they could not stop their children from seeing the advertisement, the complainant said.

The authority's decision said while the gesture may have been "relatively innocuous" to the advertiser's target demographic, the high visibility of the advertisement and its placement in a central city location meant the advertisement had an indiscriminate reach that went beyond its target audience and was visible to people who may find the gesture offensive and was also visible to children.

The complaint was upheld.

The authority's decision was one of 13 released yesterday.

A complaint against a Whittaker's television advertisement for a new flavour of chocolate with the tagline an "accident waiting to happen" was rejected by the authority.

The television ad for Whittaker's L&P-flavoured white chocolate featured a man driving a Whittaker's van.

As he was driving he ate some Whittaker's white chocolate and drank L&P. The combination of the two flavours sent the man into a state of bliss, the authority's decision read.

His concentration returned too late to prevent him driving the van into a giant bottle of L&P.

The complainant said the advertisement encouraged unsafe driving, because eating and drinking while driving is a common cause of car accidents, and said the advertisement's tagline that the new chocolate was an "accident waiting to happen" could have been made in a safer way.

Other complaints regarding the ad shared similar views.

The majority of members on the authority's complaints board said while the ad displayed unsafe driving behaviour, most viewers were capable of recognising the distinction between fiction and reality and the obvious hyperbolic nature of the dream sequence.
The complaint was therefore not upheld.

Another complaint concerned a radio advertisement for the Appliance Shed which stated they had "even better deals than my dodgy Uncle Rangi".

The complainant said the comment was an offensive stereotype and derogatory to Maori.

The authority did not uphold the complaint, stating in its decision that the inclusion of the word "my" in reference to Uncle Rangi effectively personalised the statement and therefore was not a generalisation about Maori.

It also said most listeners would likely recognise and accept the intended humour in the advertisement.

However, a complaint about a newspaper advertorial for Harley Dentistry, written as an opinion piece about the removal of fluoride from a city's water supply, was upheld.

The advertorial included the statement "water fluoridation reduces decay by 20 per cent in our most vulnerable people, our children and those on lower incomes".

The complainant said the statement was an unsubstantiated claim.

The majority of the members of the authority's complaints board agreed and said it was written as an absolute claim of fact and not opinion.

They went on to say that because there was a level of ambiguity between fact and opinion in the advertorial, along with a lack of substantiation of an absolute claim, the advertorial was in breach of the Code of Ethics and was not prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.


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