Advertising for Denny Fire and Smoke Ham opened with a map of the Southern United States (The Deep South). We see a railway track in motion with the lights of a train featured in the distance.
A man is featured carrying a large joint of meat into a barn where a barbeque is lighting. He places the meat on the barbecue grill and bastes it with a brush. He then picks up wood chips from a barrel and places them over the joint of meat. In the scene that follows he is seen closing a large smoking oven door, the smoke billows from the oven and it is evident that he has place the joint of meat in the oven to smoke. We then see a table laden with food, it is clear from the scene that the joint of meat that has been smoked is a ham joint. The meat is accompanied on the table by condiments, beans, corn etc. The advertisers’ website address appears on-screen alongside a packet of the Fire and Smoked ham as it is sold in the shops.
The male voiceover in a southern American accent refers to the following:
“Henry Denny always did go further to please. So he’d say hell yeah to Denny getting all inspired by true American pit masters to craft fire and smoke. Prime joints cooked low and slow seared over cracklin’ flames and then smoked over oak wood chips for a flavour that will get your taste buds happier than a tornado in a trailer park. Fire ‘n’ Smoke, Fire grill, slow cook. Hellishly good”.
Complainants objected to the line used in the advertisement. “Get your taste buds happier than a tornado in a trailer park.” They considered that given the damage a tornado can cause, the injuries and loss of life that can occur that this reference was offensive, disrespectful and in bad taste. One complainant also said that he had been caught up in a tornado once in his life and it had been a frightening experience.
The advertisers said that they had never intended to cause offence with their advertising. They said the entire inspiration for the product derived from the cooking methods of the pit masters of the Deep South in America. They took the decision to represent the Deep South American lifestyle in the branding and promotion of their Fire and Smoke product. They had applied this to all aspects of their campaign from the language used on the packaging, all the way through to the voiceover used.
The advertisers said the line referred to by the complainants “happier than a tornado in a trailer park” related to the feeling experienced on the taste buds when eating Fire and Smoke meats. They said they would never use this line in isolation, and had used it in this instance to dramatise the exciting flavour created by this method of cooking.
The advertisers also said that the commercial in question had only aired in Ireland where tornados and such extreme weather were unlikely. They said that the direct audience viewing the advertisement were unlikely to have been affected by tornados or such natural disasters. They also said that it had not air during children’s television and they considered that the adult audience viewing it were likely to understand the premise behind the advertisement.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. They accepted that while references to natural weather events were not in themselves a breach of the Code that the context in which the natural disaster was presented in this case was unacceptable. The Committee considered that while the advertisers may not have intentionally caused offence with their advertising, it was unacceptable to make light of natural disasters in marketing communications. In the circumstances they considered that that advertisement had breached Section 2.15 of the Code and upheld the complaints.
The advertisement should not run in its current form again.