New Decisions: Offensive Language, Facebook Posts and More

The following decisions have been published:

Euphemism Deemed Offensive

A large outdoor poster for Remedy Kombucha drink showed a photo of a hand holding a bottle of Remedy Kombucha. The text said: “TELL SUGAR TO GET FRUCT”.

Two complainants were concerned about the use of the word “FRUCT”, saying the play on an expletive was offensive, inappropriate and designed to shock.

The Advertiser said the advertisement did not contain any strong or obscene language. The word “fruct” is a shortened term for “fructose”, which is a type of sugar. The slogan “TELL SUGAR TO GET FRUCT” is a bold way of saying “no” to sugar. The advertisement does not depict the actual word “f–k” and “fruct” is not used in an aggressive manner or in conjunction with any offensive imagery.

The Complaints Board agreed the use of the word “Fruct”, as contained in the phrase “TELL SUGAR TO GET FRUCT”, was offensive. This is because the word “Fruct” acts as a place holder or euphemism for the word “Fuck”, which is generally regarded as offensive. The Complaints Board said the poster advertisement was located in public places, such as shopping malls, and this means there was unrestricted access for anyone in the vicinity, including children. The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Upheld.

Facebook Posts Must Be Mindful of Language

A post on the Netflix Facebook page dated 29 January 2019 said: “Fuck it’s hot.”

The Complainant was concerned the Facebook post describing the hot weather was “pretty disgusting”.

In its initial response the Advertiser said the statement about the weather does not constitute an advertisement, as defined by the Advertising Standards Code. The Advertiser later advised the text of the Facebook post had been changed to read “Heck it’s hot.”

The Complaints Board agreed the Facebook post did fit the ASA definition of an advertisement as it was likely to influence consumer opinion in relation to Netflix. The Complaints Board therefore had jurisdiction to consider the complaint. The Complaints Board acknowledged the Advertiser made changes to the Facebook post after receiving the complaint, changing the word which was of concern. Given the Advertiser’s co-operative engagement with the process and the self-regulatory action taken in amending the post, the Complaints Board ruled that the matter was Settled.

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