Latest Decisions: advocacy advertising, gambling websites, and more.

5 June 2024

The following are the latest decisions from the ASA.

Upheld Complaints: The Complaints Board agreed with the complainant the advertisement breached the Advertising Codes. The advertiser has been asked to remove or amend it.

Complaint 24/063 Reality Check Radio, Print, Upheld
Complaint 24/068 World Spinner, Wildz, Television, Upheld

Settled Complaints: The advertiser has amended or removed the advertisement after receiving the complaint.

Complaint 24/086 Southern Cross Medical Care Society, Southern Cross, TikTok, Settled
Complaint 24/094 AA Insurance, Print & Digital Marketing, Settled

Not Upheld Complaints: The Complaints Board found the ad did not breach the Advertising Codes in relation to the complainant’s concerns.

Complaint 24/059 Burnett Foundation, Out of Home, Not Upheld
Complaint 24/072 Essity / BrandWorld, ChooseWell, Television, Not Upheld
Complaint 24/075 Briscoes Group Ltd, Rebel Sport, Website, Not Upheld
Complaint 24/085 Pfizer, Out of Home Digital Billboard, Not Upheld

No Further Action: The Chair of the Complaints Board reviewed the ad and the complaint, and ruled the issues raised are not a breach of the Advertising Codes.

Complaint 24/079 Conscious South Canterbury, Print, No Further Action
Complaint 24/090 For the Protection of Zion Trust, Print, No Further Action
Complaint 24/091 McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd, Live Television, No Further Action
Complaint 24/092 Asahi Beverages (NZ) Ltd, Pure Blonde, Television, No Further Action
Complaint 24/095 Stop Co Governance, Out of Home, No Further Action
Complaint 24/099 Lotto NZ, Live Television, No Further Action
Complaint 24/100 NZ Seniors, Live Television, No Further Action

Decision Summaries

Each month we summarise two decisions from the above list

TV ad for gambling website breached Gambling Advertising Code

Complaint 24/068 World Spinner, Wildz, Television, Upheld

The Complaints Board has ruled the TV advertisement for free gambling website breached the Gambling Advertising Code as it implicitly promoted paid gambling.

The television ad opened with the logo in purple letters and included the text “ – Free to Play” and disclaimer “18+ This is not a gambling website. Please play responsibly. Age restriction applies 18+.” The advertisement depicts a woman in a white jumpsuit accessing the website. She is then shown riding a rocket across the screen. It has the word “Wildz” written on its side. The text “Get More” then appears on the screen along with imagery of items associated with gambling such as dice, a roulette wheel and playing cards. The advertisement is accompanied by a soundtrack which repeats the phrase “Get More”.

Four complaints were received regarding the advertisement, three of which were concerned the ad was misleading as it promoted a gambling website. A fourth Complainant was concerned the advert used “sex sounds” to sell gambling.

In their response, the Advertiser defended the advertisement, while offering to make some amendments to settle parts of the complaint.

The Complaints Board reviewed the ad and confirmed the likely consumer takeout was that it promoted the Wildz brand, which is synonymous with gambling, and the website. Referencing a similar precedent decision on advertising, the Board said it was reasonable to infer the purpose of the .net website was to influence the choice, opinion, or behaviour of consumers to make them more likely to use the Wildz paid gambling websites.

The Board considered the proposed amendments from the Advertiser, but ruled these would not be sufficient to prevent the advertisement from being misleading. The Complaints Board declined to adjudicate on the advertisement soundtrack but noted even if that changed, the advertisement would still be in breach of the social responsibility principle in the Gambling Advertising Code.

The Complaints Board Upheld the complaint, with the advertisement not to run again in its current form.

Our Get It Right the First Time Guide on Misleading Advertising provides our top guidance on clear, Code-compliant advertising.
To learn more about the rules surrounding gambling advertising, check out our Short & Sweet video on the Gambling Advertising Code.

Burnett Foundation “Don’t Ride Distracted” campaign did not breach Code

Complaint 24/059 Burnett Foundation, Out of Home, Not Upheld

The Burnett Foundation billboard and poster advertisements depicted headshots of three men, two of which had facial expressions indicating states of pleasure, while another appeared distracted. The advertisements showed the Burnett Foundation logo and website address and text including calls to action “Don’t ride distracted” and “Know your status. Order a free and discreet HIV test.”

Eight Complainants were concerned the advertisements were not suitable in a public place, as they depicted sexual activity and were unsuitable to be viewed by young people.

The Advertiser defended their advertisement, noting it was part of their community focused HIV prevention programme.

In the decision, the Complaints Board agreed the advertisements were advocacy advertising and had met the Code requirements for advertiser identification and position.

The majority of the Complaints Board ruled the advertisement did not reach the threshold to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. This was because, while the imagery in the ads implied sexual activity, it was not explicit and any inference of this would be introduced by the consumer. The majority considered very young audiences would be unlikely to understand what the advertisement was about. A minority said the advertisements were inappropriate due to the sexually suggestive imagery and should not be available to an unrestricted audience and were likely to cause serious offense to some members of society.

The majority agreed the ad had been placed with a due sense of social responsibility, noting the advertisements were imparting important information and had met the requirements of advocacy advertising.

In accordance with the majority, the Complaints Board ruled that the complaints were Not Upheld.

Our Quick Guide: Offensive Advertising provides guidance on ensuring ads are appropriate for your audience.