Complaints upheld over haircare ad and bird flipping billboard

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints over a Dove Hair care ad which said 90 percent of Kiwi women recommended Dove Hair Care; and another about a Radio Hauraki billboard that showed drive show host Matt Heath giving passers by the big finger.

The complaint about the Radio Hauraki billboard on a building in Auckland’s CBD earlier this year said it was offensive and unnecessary and that the visibility of the billboard meant they couldn’t stop their children from seeing the ad.

The billboard showed DJ Matt Heath with the middle finger on each hand extended.

According to the decision on the authority’s website, the majority of the board said the visibility of the ad and its placement meant it had an indiscriminate reach that went beyond its target audience and was visible to people who may find the gesture offensive. The majority of the boardsaid the billboard met the threshold to offend against prevailing community standard and was likely to cause serious offence.

The advertiser, the Radio Network said it wasn’t its intention to be distasteful.

“The intention behind the image was tongue-in-cheek, and Matt Heath, the host of the Drive show on Hauraki, is a light-hearted and cheerful individual, whose style and attitude is representative of a generation of people who have shrugged off what they deem to be old-fashioned reactions to relatively innocuous statements,” it said in the decision.

Last August the authority upheld a complaint about another Hauraki billboard featuring Heath, along with text saying “my show starts at 4pm – long enough to get over any hangover.”

The complaint over the Dove ad said it was misleading and the complainant wanted to see evidence of the claim that 90 percent of New Zealand women recommend Dove Hair care therapy. Two other complaints about the ad were similar.

According to the decision, published on the authority’s website, the Complaints Board said that the consumer take out of the survey results presented in the advertisement was likely to be that 90 percent of all New Zealand women would recommend Dove Hair Care. The Complaints Board said the advertisement breached rules two and three of the Code of Ethics as it presented the results of the survey in a way which was likely to mislead or deceive consumers. The Board said the advertisement had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers. 

In its response to the complaint, the advertiser, Unilever Australasia, gave evidence of a survey of New Zealand women aged between 25 and 55 with dry, damaged or split hair, to support the percentage claim.

According to the decision, Unilever said the advertisement was not misleading or deceptive, and that the consumer survey was not used in a manner which was misleading or deceptive. It also said it would be prepared to change the advertisement to say, “Ninety percent of Kiwi women who tried Dove Hair Care recommend it.” 

The Complaints Board’s view, the decision said, was the advertisement did not reflect the survey results as 90 percent of the 221 women who participated in the survey would recommend Dove Hair Care. 

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