Readings — From the May 2012 issue

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From recent decisions of the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau in response to citizen complaints.

The advertisement is for Hungry Jack’s meal deals and features giant rabbits, which multiply with each increase in the number of people a meal deal can feed. The Board noted the complainant’s concerns that the rabbits have angry expressions on their faces. Whilst the rabbits do look a bit threatening, they do not actually make any threats. The girl serving them appears bemused, not intimidated, threatened, or uncomfortable.

The Board noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement features people slapping themselves on the forehead and thus sets a bad example for viewers. The Board noted that when the different actors hit their own foreheads they do so in a manner that is suggestive of being exasperated that they didn’t think of the idea sooner. No actors are shown to be in pain as a result of hitting themselves.

One of the cartoon M&Ms has made a voodoo doll and is shown about to stick a pin into the doll whilst another M&M character looks on. The Board noted that the advertisement does not encourage the use of voodoo dolls, nor does it encourage the use of sharp objects on people.

The Board noted the complainant’s concerns that the advertisement features asterisks that are made to look like children and are then killed. The advertisement features animated asterisks running around a cartoon desert making incoherent noises. The Board considered that the asterisks do not look like children and are not intended to represent children but to represent the asterisk.

The Board noted complainants’ concerns that the advertisement depicts and condones violence toward animals. The advertisement features two crocodiles playing tennis using their tails as racquets and a sugar glider as a ball. The Board noted that the animals are shown enjoying themselves, with the sugar glider making appreciative noises as it travels across the tennis court.

The advertisement features a man and a boy arguing over the last pie on a plate. In order to be certain of getting the last pie, the man licks his fingers and then wipes them across the top of the pie. Whilst most members of the community could find the man’s behavior unpleasant, it is not a depiction contrary to prevailing community standards on consumption of food at home.

Whilst hostage situations are of themselves not an issue to laugh at or make fun of, the advertisement is depicting a hostage situation that is clearly unreal in that two of the hostages are cartoon chocolates.

The Board considered that whilst the woman in the advertisement just sees her lingerie-clad dog in bed with her partner, the viewers have seen the dog dress itself and are aware that the situation has been contrived by the dog without the man’s knowledge. Whilst one interpretation is of sexual activity, another interpretation could be that she is annoyed that the man has dressed the dog in her lingerie.

The Board noted that the Push Pop is depicted as almost the same size as the cartoon figure carrying it and considered that even young children would understand that this is not a real depiction and that Push Pops are much smaller than actual people.

The advertisement features a scene from the inside of a fridge where eggs are rolling themselves off the top shelf to land on a jar of Goulburn Valley Peaches. The voice-over says, “Not everyone is happy our peaches are perfect for breakfast.” The Board noted that the eggs initiate an attack to show their jealousy. The Board considered that the images are not necessarily an act of violence and the eggs even appear to be having fun.

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