Ad complaints – V Energy might promote crime, Foodstuffs and Progressive squabble, and raunchy Carl’s Jr ad still too raunchy

 V Energy

Frucor’s V Robbers online campaign for its energy drink (via Colenso BBDO) is in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority for potentially promoting nefarious activity in the real world.

The online game has V drinkers compete against each other for a slice of $100,000 – which they win by stealing money from other players.  The complaint is aimed at posters promoting the campaign offline, which have headlines such as “Good things come to people who steal” and “Robbery is the best policy”. The posters trivialise stealing, says the complainant.

The ASA’s Complaints Board sided with the complainant and upheld it, saying the posters breached its Code of Ethics – specifically its 4th Basic Principle:

“All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.”

Frucor says it never intended to encourage any illegal or unethical behaviour (at least outside of the virtual world). Prominent V logos and links at the bottom of the posters clearly showed the headlines were in reference to an online competition, the company argues.

Countdown (Progressive)

The country’s two largest grocery chains continue to fire shots at each other, this time through the ASA’s complaints process.

Foodstuff (which owns New World and Pak n Save) is peeved that a sign outside of Countdown Rotorua says:

“Our mission – Rotorua’s lowest grocery prices”

Foodstuff argues that this is a comparative claim which needs to be substantiated with facts. The Complaints Board agrees, saying although it’s an aspirational claim (which has a lower standard of proof than an absolute claim) the slogan still needs to be substantiated with evidence that Countdown is taking adequate steps towards achieving its “mission”.

Countdown says the sign is merely showing customers the Rotorua store is trying hard to achieve the lowest prices in the area – this includes regular price monitoring and price matching competitors. The Complaints Board says this isn’t adequate evidence, upholding Foodstuff’s complaint.

Carl’s Jr

Restaurant Brands’ attempts to get Carl’s Jr’s more scandalous ads on TV have been thwarted, but that hasn’t stopped the franchisee from taking to radio and online. The Carl’s Jr ad was banned from New Zealand TV for being gratuitously sexualised, but has found a home on YouTube where it’s had almost 400,000 views.

The ad appearing on Four’s on demand website received a complaint for “blatant sexualisation” of the women’s bodies and making the men watching (also in the ad) look like “drooling idiots”.

The majority of the Complaints Board agreed and upheld the complaint. The panel says the advertising had numerous closeups of the women’s bodies, and although it was intended to be poking fun at stereotypes – the Board did not think it was prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society (Basic Principle 4).

Restaruant Brands for its part says the women’s wardrobe is common to the BBQs in the American South. The ad aired ahead of American Dad, Bob’s Burgers and The Cleaveland Show – which are adult cartoons skewed towards 18-39 year-old males. MediaWorks (which owns Four) says it reviewed the ad and felt it was appropriate for the audience of those cartoons.

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