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Law firm pulled up over its straight-talking ad

10 February 2017

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about a newspaper advertisement for Pukekohe-based Arnet Law which included the question “Negotiating with an a**hole?”

The complainant said that word was offensive and not saved by the use of asterisks. The ad was placed in The Post which covers Franklin and North Waikato.  

The majority of the ASA’s Complaints Board said the use of the word, with or without asterisks, in an advertisement promoting a law firm in a community newspaper, did offend against community standards. A minority of the Board disagreed saying the wording in the advertisement was supported by the advertiser’s intention to illustrate their straight-talking approach.

The complainant said: “Although the word is toned down by the use of two asterisks, its meaning is clear. The use of this word is against common decency and besides, it is an emotive term, quite unsuited to a law firm.”

In its response, Arnet Law said it wasn’t the “stereotypical stuffy old fashioned lawyers”.

“Arnet Law uses the mantra of being straight talking Lawyers. We keep things simple and straight forward. We use terms that everyone understands. The word Asshole has been dulled down by the use of the **'s to avoid using the actual word.

“This shows we are aware that the word when used in its full state could be offensive and we have shown we know when its appropriate to use certain terms and when it is not appropriate to use them.

“The ad in question refers to nothing more than ‘Negotiating with someone difficult’.

“Arnet Law operates in a rural part of Southern Auckland. Many of our clients work in the rural and farming sector, and this Straight Talking approach appeals to them.”

Last updated on the 16th September 2019