New Decisions: Colloquial language, safety practices and more

The following decisions have been published:

Colloquial reference ruled not offensive

The Isuzu television advertisement shows a truck being driven over rural terrain with the voice-over saying “This is John Simpson from Mount Hay Station, Tekapo. John’s been driving this D-Max for a while now. It’s been a great truck and it’s got heaps of life left yet. But even so, he’ll be driving into town to the dealer soon and trading it in for a new D-Max, so someone else can have this one. John’s a good bastard! Be like John! Trade up to a new Isuzu D-Max, so someone else can have your old one.” The advertisement ends with the tag-line “Be a Good Bastard.”

The Complainant said it was rude and vulgar for the advertisement to use the word ‘bastard’.

The Advertiser explained the term was intended as a compliment and the context it was used in was a positive one. It considered the word ‘bastard’ to be a colloquial term and cited several examples of it being used in other media campaigns.

The Complaints Board agreed the term ‘good bastard’ was a colloquial reference used in a good natured, positive message about looking out for others in a rural community. The Complaints Board noted the word ‘bastard’ was ranked a low 24th on the Unacceptable Words On Television and Radio list published by the Broadcasting Standards Authority. In terms of context, medium and intended audience, the Complaints Board said the advertisement used language that was unlikely to offend its target demographic. The Complaints Board said the placement and timing of the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to most people viewing this content. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the complaint.

Disclaimer Did Not Absolve Advertiser of Safe Practice Responsibilities

The television advertisement for BRP’s Seadoo jet ski, showed it being used in various situations, including a scene where two jet skis appear to cross each other’s wake in close proximity. The advertisement included a disclaimer which said “observe applicable laws and regulations. Respect of shoreline residents, and keep a safe distance from other recreationists” and “always ride safely and responsibly”.

The Complainant’s concern was that advertisement showed jet skis zigzagging backwards and forwards across each other’s paths which was dangerous and would encourage people to emulate that behaviour.

The Advertiser said the advertisement was not filmed in New Zealand and carried a disclaimer alerting people to observe applicable laws and regulations. With regard to the scene subject to complaint, the Advertiser said the jet skis were not shown crossing paths, this was only evident from their wake.

The Complaints Board said in this instance the disclaimer did not absolve the Advertiser of its responsibility to ensure their advertisement depicted safe practices. The Complaints Board said the scene where the jet skis had crossed each other’s paths at speed encouraged a disregard for safety, in breach the Code of Ethics. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Upheld.