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Furniture ad playing on pandemic ruled insensitive

06 May 2020

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that an ad using the term ‘Viral sale’ was insensitive and irresponsible during a pandemic.

The email and website advertisements for Ikea furniture importer Idiya said:

“Spread the Savings during the Lockdown” VIRAL SALE. Refer a friend and get 10% savings. Further spread the savings by shopping over NZD 300 to gift a NZD 30 store credit to your friend too!! Be Generous, Spread the Savings.”


The complainant was concerned the advertisements were using inappropriate humour, referring to the COVID-19 global pandemic, in order to promote furniture. 

The ASA’s complaints board ruled the complaint was upheld, saying the advertisements were not socially responsible, noting they had been prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic and made deliberate, if tacit, reference to it through use of the words “viral”, “spread” and “lockdown”.

The board ruled this was in breach of the Advertising Standards Code, as in the context of the global pandemic, where many lives have been lost, this was socially irresponsible and insensitive.

Spark's Ernest Rutherford ad didn’t breach ASA Code

The ASA has refused to uphold a complaint against a television advertisement for Spark which contained black and white movie footage of New Zealand scientist Lord Ernest Rutherford sitting at a desk reading from a sheet of paper.

The speech was altered using, so it appears he is supporting the “dawn of 5G”.  

Two complainants said the advertisement was misleading.

The ASA’s complaints board said most consumers would recognise the advertisement was a creative portrayal of what Lord Rutherford might say, if he was alive, to witness the adoption of 5G technology.

The board considered if it was acceptable to edit footage to give the impression a person is saying something they didn’t actually say, and agreed the use of this practice must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The advertisement was created in collaboration with members of Lord Rutherford’s estate, which mitigated the risk.

Last updated on the 7th May 2020