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Advertiser: Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.3, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 3.19(a), 3.19(b), 3.19(c), 3.20, 3.21
The radio advertisement stated the following:
“Your father-in-law’s a great guy. But you don’t want to see him today. Not because you don’t get on. But because right now, you’re in the gym changing room. He gives you an enthusiastic wave and a thumbs up. Which makes his towel fall down. He bends over, slowly, his body stiff from his aerobics class. You see everything, in all its sweaty glory. It’s not a pretty picture.
And they say radio isn’t visual. Don’t underestimate the power of a radio ad.
A significant number of complainants described the advertisement as offensive as well as indecent and inappropriate.
A number of complainants considered that the content was discriminatory against older people and was ageist in nature. A significant number also considered that the content was demeaning. Some were of the view that the content depicted the male body negatively and being ugly and would not have been scripted using a female as the main character subject.
The advertising agency said that their client, Choose Radio, was a joint initiative between the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) and RTÉ Radio Sales. They said that prior to the broadcasting of the promotion, the RTÉ’s Copy Clearance, the IBI Executive Director, the Chairperson of Choose Radio and the members of the radio sales houses were given the script and that no queries were raised regarding the content of the advertisement.
The agency wished to clarify that, as their client did not pay for airtime, this piece of creative was treated as a promo, not as an advertisement. They said that all stations gave up their time to support Choose Radio.
They said that the creative in question was designed to celebrate the visual power of radio. They said that in a world where the emphasis was on the visual, they wanted to create a piece of work that countered claims that radio could not be as visual as other mediums, and wanted to do this in a tongue-in-cheek, comedic way, and did not set out to cause offence. They said that to achieve this, the advertisement depicted a scene to allow the listener get a picture of it in their heads. They said that the narrative introduced new descriptions to ensure the listener was developing the visual image of the gym changing room in their minds until the listener nearly felt like they were standing in the changing room witnessing the scene themselves.
The agency said that the advertisement was not intended to be ageist as it was the context that made the situation awkward. They said that the fact that it was the father-in-law was what created the tension. They said they did not intend for it to be viewed as discriminatory towards older people either and said that it was the situation that was awkward. They said that ensuing claims came from the listener’s imagination and interpretation.
They said that in order to address specific complaints, it was worth mentioning that there was no detail in the script as to the age of the man or boy, nor the physical appearance of the man. They said that these points and complaints had been arrived at by the listener, and that each individual listener would have a different picture in their head.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the agency’s’ response. They noted the agency’s comments in relation to their client not paying for the airtime, as well as that the creative was treated as a promo rather than the advertisement. However, the Committee considered that the content constituted a marketing communication under the Code.
Issue 1: Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered that the concept of the male changing in the gym was set in typical surroundings and reflected normal societal behaviours of the person portrayed. On balance, they considered that the concept of a situation being compromised due to the familial relationship between the characters was tongue-in-cheek and would not be considered to be in breach of the Code.
Issue 2: Not Upheld
The Committee acknowledged the intent to create content that was neither ageist nor discriminatory. They considered the advertisement to be satirical and humorous and not ageist. They noted that there was no mention of age in the advertisement. In the circumstances, they did not consider the advertisement to be in breach of the Code on the grounds suggested by the complainants.
No further action required.