New Zealand Law Society - Authority rejects claim biscuit ad had racist overtones

Authority rejects claim biscuit ad had racist overtones

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint that a TV ad featuring two colours of chocolate biscuits “encourages racism”.

The television advertisement for Griffin’s Toffee Pop biscuits showed four animated biscuits on a plate. Three were covered with milk chocolate and one in white chocolate. One of the milk chocolate biscuits says “Everyone, I’d like you to meet a new member of the team. Welcome on board!” The female milk chocolate biscuit says: “That’s an interesting coat!” The white chocolate biscuit responds: “Thanks I’m covered in luxurious caramelised white chocolate.” She is asked: “Yeah, but are you delicious?” Former All Black Carlos Spencer takes a bite out of the white chocolate biscuit and says “Mmmm, that’s delicious!” The female milk chocolate biscuit winds it up by saying: “Ah yeah, fair enough.”

A complaint said the conversation between the biscuits was offensive and had racist overtones.

“This Griffin’s biscuit ad contains offensive dialogue with racist overtones. The colour of a biscuit character’s face is called into question in terms of whether they might be as good to eat as the other characters. It encourages racism and with the animated style is likely to appeal to children. Horrible and hateful role modelling in a multicultural society.”

The advertiser said the commercial was a ‘tongue in cheek’ campaign which used humour to promote the new biscuit. While Spencer chose to consume the white chocolate biscuit, there were no racial undertones or any offensive depictions of race.

The majority of the ASA’s complaints board agreed the advertisement was humorous and the likely message would be the new biscuit was just as good as the original flavour. The board ruled the advertisement had not targeted children and it did not meet the threshold to cause serious or widespread offence. Accordingly, the board ruled the complaint was not upheld.