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‘Harden up’ accident ad deemed irresponsible

18 August 2017

The Advertising Standards has upheld a complaint about a commercial which made humour out of a workplace accident.

The television ad for Bisley Workwear showed a series of building site mishaps. In one a bag of dry cement bursts while being unloaded from the back of a truck and lands all over a worker’s head. His co-worker hoses him clean while saying “Harden up mate!”

A complainant was concerned about the health and safety aspect of showing a worker having dry cement powder thrown in his face. As this substance can be caustic and cause serious eye damage, they did not believe that it should be part of an attempt at a humorous scenario, centred on the pun “harden up”

The advertiser told the ASA it was a light-hearted workwear commercial showing over-exaggerated building site events.

The ASA’s complaints board agreed that the advertisement breached its Code of Ethics by showing a dangerous situation it said, given the caustic nature of concrete, a man receiving a face full of dry concrete powder elevated the otherwise light-hearted depiction of work safety mishaps into a more serious health and safety concern. The board ruled to uphold the complaint.

Photo of shot man was good to use in promo

Meanwhile, the ASA has ruled that an award-winning image of a victim of assassination was okay to use for a promotion.

The poster advertisement for the World Press Photo Exhibition New Zealand appeared in several locations around Auckland. It showed a photo of Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov, who was assassinated in December 2016 while he was speaking at an art gallery, dead on the ground while the gunman holds his gun in the air. The poster provided information on where the exhibition was being held and contained the disclaimer “Visitor Discretion Advised”.

The complainant was concerned the ad was a gruesome depiction of a body and it promoted extremism, terrorism and violence.

In its response, the advertiser said the image had been widely used to promote the World Press Photo Exhibition internationally. The photograph was selected because it was the winning Exhibition image, not because there was any intent to promote indecency, offensiveness, violence or a disregard for safety.

The ASA said the advertisement did not endorse violent behaviour but was reflective of the news media’s freedom of expression, did not lend support to unacceptable violent behaviour and was not likely to cause serious and widespread offence.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019