New Decisions: Unsubstantiated Health Claims, Humour and More

The following decisions have been published:

Advocacy Ad Used Humour Used to Reach Target Audience
A television advertisement for the New Zealand Transport Agency is set at a rural shed party. When “Jonno” goes to leave the party, his friend asks: “You sweet to drive cuz?” and then turns to his other friend and says: “Imagine if Jonno kooks it on his way home?” A dream sequence follows where the two friends consider life without Jonno. The friends then run out to where an intoxicated Jonno is about to get into his car, and they take his keys off him. The final shot shows Jonno walking back to the party, arm in arm with his friend.

The Complainants were concerned about a number of aspects of the advertisement: it promotes partying, drinking alcohol and getting drunk, shows an actor giving the fingers, shows a half-naked man standing on the bonnet of a moving car, shows an actor saying “Piss Off”, portrays gratuitous violence, has images of people fighting, shows a jeep with an offensive image of a naked bottom, farting, implies you should only stop your friends from drink driving if you can use them to your advantage and wasn’t suitable viewing for children.

The Advertiser said the advertisement is designed to appeal to a hard-to-reach group that ignore the risks of drink driving. The advertisement uses humour and shows a realistic portrayal of the behaviour the Advertiser is hoping to change. The Advertiser said the advertisement does not encourage drunkenness or portray drinking as a glamorous activity. They noted there are two different versions of the advertisement, the AO (Adults Only) version, which is aired after 8.30pm, and the GXC (General Except Children) version is aired pre-8.30pm.

The Complaints Board noted the importance of the use of humour in the advertisement and portraying a situation the target audience can relate to. It agreed the advocacy advertisement, in both the AO and the GXC versions, did not reach the threshold to cause serious or widespread offence or to lend support to unacceptable violent behaviour. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

“Extraordinarily Effective” Claim Not Substantiated
The Brand Developers television advertisement for the Pain Erazor made various claims about the efficacy of the device in treating pain or discomfort. The advertisement stated, in part: “Introducing Pain Erazor – The incredible innovation in drug-free pain relief that’s fast, affordable, convenient and extraordinarily effective….”

Four complainants questioned the exaggerated claims made about the effectiveness of the product and said there was no supporting evidence to substantiate these claims.

Most of the claims in the advertisement had been dealt with previously when the Complaints Board ruled that sufficient substantiation had been provided to support the claim that the Pain Erazor device provides pain relief. However, the Chair accepted the complaint in relation to the claim that the Pain Erazor device was “extraordinarily effective.”

The Advertiser said the term ‘extraordinarily effective’ referred to the breadth of the types of pain the device could help to elevate.

The Complaints Board said the likely consumer takeout of the claim ‘extraordinarily effective’ was that it provided an exceptional level of pain relief and was more effective than other types of pain relief. The Complaints Board ruled the Advertiser had not substantiated that the Pain Erazor provided an exceptional level of pain relief. Therefore, the Complaints Board ruled the complaints were Upheld.