Complaints over Asians in advertising dismissed

By Derek Cheng

One complaint concerned an advertisement with an Asian dentist. File photo / NZ Herald
One complaint concerned an advertisement with an Asian dentist. File photo / NZ Herald

Four complaints about the use of Asians in television advertising, including one which described the use of an Asian female as "ridiculous", have all been dismissed by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Complainant A Kwan laid the complaints with the authority about advertisements from Harvey Norman, eye glasses store OPSM, The Warehouse, and make-up and cosmetics company Thin Lizzy.

A Kwan has previously decried the use of Asians in dentistry advertisements as unfair.

Some of the complaints were thin on detail. The one against Harvey Norman simply stated: "On the 1st of May at 19.55, there's an Asian."

The OPSM complaint said the advertisement had "an Asian female on it, which is ridiculous".

The case against the Warehouse took offence that the advertisement depicted an Asian buying a washing machine.

"Remove or amend this ad please."

A Kwan provided more details in his complaint against Thin Lizzy.

"This advertisement gets on my nerves every time I see it - How did they let that Asian female speak first or being (sic) in the middle of the group? This advertisement has to be adjusted, the Asian female has to be removed or this advertisement has to be banned."

In the Advertising Standards Complaints Board's decision, chairwoman Jenny Robson said she was unsure about the substance of the complaints.

She referred to an earlier case raised by A Kwan where he had said: "I dislike any ads in New Zealand which includes mainly Asian people in it - I don't care that Asian guy is a qualified dentist or not, but plenty of Western dentists would be able to present that advertisement. Totally not fair."

Ms Robson noted A Kwan's personal view, but she said many people of Asian ethnicity were born in New Zealand and, as such, were New Zealanders.

"She was of the view that the inclusion of Asians in New Zealand advertisements was not unfair to other New Zealanders," the ASA decision stated.

The advertisements did not breach the Code of Ethics or the Code for People in Advertising.

"Therefore, the chairman said the advertisement was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence to other New Zealanders or breach the requirement for advertisement to observe a due sense of social responsibility."

- APNZ

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