The radio advertising for Axa Insurance centred on a couple, Mark (M) and Rachael (R) travelling in their car. An insect is heard buzzing around in the background. The conversation ensued as follows:
M: “There’s a wasp, there’s a wasp in the car!
R: Relax, it’s just a fly.
M: What if it’s a wasp! I’m partly allergic!
R: Watch the road Mark.
M: It’s coming for me aaaagh!
R: Great! There goes our no claims discount.
M: Don’t stress, the AXA redline will sort this.
R: (sarcastic) Oh yeah, like a magical red line is going to swoop in and save our no claims without…
M: There it is.
R: It’s actually happening!”
Voiceover: “At AXA, we don’t think you should lose your whole no claims discount over one mistake. So our Accident Forgiveness benefit means you won’t.
Terms and Conditions apply. Accident Forgiveness is stepback no claims discount protection for customers with one or more years no claims discount. AXA Insurance Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Call us on 1890 247 365 or visit axa.ie. AXA. Redefining Standards.”
The complainant considered the advertising to be deliberately sexist and derogatory to men. He considered that the male driver of the car had been portrayed as a bumbling, moronic incompetent man who probably should not have been driving the car when he was in such a state. He considered that the target audience for the advertising was likely to have been women as they were statistically proven to more likely have full no claim bonus and therefore qualify for the insurance package on offer.
The complainant also said that he was tired of men being the soft target for advertisers and being highlighted as being incapable of doing simple tasks and in need of rescuing by their wife/girlfriend.
The advertisers said that the purpose of the scenarios presented in the advertising had been to amuse and entertain the listener/viewer. The advertising had also been created for television. The target audience they said had not been solely women, but couples of around about the age group represented by the actors in their marketing campaign.
They considered it important to reference the fact that while it was Mark who had become hysterical in one of the advertisements, Rachael had been portrayed in a similar fashion in another.
Their intention they said had not been to play on gender roles, but on the dynamic of married couples, who joked and bickered in their own way, and dealt with things like car insurance and accidents together as a unit.
They said that the couple were a fictional couple with different characteristics. While Mark had been the hysterical one in one advertisement it had been Rachael who had become hysterical at the crash scene in another. None of their characteristics, they said, had been specifically designed around their gender but around their ability to play well off each other and effectively present the benefits which they were trying to promote with their advertising.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that when the campaign was viewed as a whole and in context that both characters had appeared to be hysterical at different stages in the campaign. In the circumstances they did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.