New Zealand Law Society - Car ad contained racial slur

Car ad contained racial slur

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the term “Jap” in an advertisement was offensive.

The website ad for 2 Cheap Cars was headed “Massive Jap Import Sale”.

A complainant was concerned the term “Jap” is considered by many to be an offensive term and it is an example of casual racism.

The website host said the word is short for Japanese and the advertisement was promoting a Japanese car sale. It said they did not pick up that the headline could be viewed as offensive and no offence was intended.

However, a majority of the ASA’s complaints board said the use of the word “Jap” in this phrase was likely to cause serious offence. This is because the term, which was introduced into the New Zealand vernacular after World War Two, is a derogatory term for “Japanese”.  A minority of the board said the term “Jap import” is commonly used in the second-hand car industry and while it isn’t ideal, no offence is intended by its use.

The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was upheld

Burger names not under ASA jurisdiction

Meanwhile, the ASA ruled that is does not have the jurisdiction to consider the names of products. The declaration came about after a complaint about an instore menu for two burgers the complainant said was sexist.

The menu for Velvet Burger restaurant included the following items: Velvet Lady “Everyone wants her but she keeps it classy just like your mum back in the day – grilled chicken breast, salad, bacon, avocado and cheese with relish and aioli” and; Luxe Bird “She’s the type of bird you want to show off to your friends – classy and hot! Filled with all good things – Southern fried chicken, fire roasted red pepper, harissa, wild rocket, red onion, chili mayo and aioli”.

The complainant said those terms likened burgers to women in a derogatory manner.

The ASA’s chair noted the Authority does not have jurisdiction to consider the names of products, in this case, the names of the burgers.  Given the Advertiser’s co-operative engagement with the process and the self-regulatory action taken in amending the advertisement, the Chair said that it would serve no further purpose to place the matter before the Complaints Board. Accordingly, the Chair ruled the complaint was Settled.

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