The Australia Day "Be Australian, Eat Lamb" commercial I posted yesterday got me thinking about Australian advertising. I can't really speak for TV advertising since I haven't watched any TV since I've arrived, but we see plenty of ads when going to the movies. It amazes me what companies (and even the government) are allowed to put on the big screen.
To compensate for lack of visual stimulation in form of a TV, Dawn and I have been going to the movies at least once a week since we got here. It started because our landlord told us that tickets were only $10 on Tuesdays (as apposed to the $15 usual price), so we thought it'd be cool to see the new movie Australia since we'd be living here for the next 4 months. We showed up at the movie just as it started and prepared for the onslaught of previews. To my surprise, we had to sit through 20 minutes of advertisements before even getting to the previews!
The commercials range from simple soft drink ads and restaurant ads to gruesome images convincing people to stop smoking (a lady smiling with mouth cancer, a picture of a gangrene foot, someone squeezing crud out of a clogged artery, black juice draining from a cancerous lung) and skin cancer warnings (live footage of a large chunk being cut out of someone to treat melanoma). You are enjoying your buttered popcorn and cold soda and then BAM, you are shown infected body parts and scenes from nasty surgery. The rest of the ads cycle through, but at every movie the smoking/cancer ads are displayed. I have to stop talking about them now, it's making me sick just thinking about it.
The rest of the ads use large amounts of sarcasm or sexual innuendos to grab your attention. I looked up the 10 most offensive ad in 2008 according to the Advertising Standards Bureau to see what actually offended Australians. Below are the results.
WARNING: What you see below may be offensive. However, if you have a sense of humor, keep on reading to have a good laugh.
Riding in the bus around Sydney I used to see this sign:
This is actually a premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction nasal spray advertisement. This caused a huge ruckus in the newspapers and eventually forced the nasal spray company to change their billboards to this:
The masses still weren't happy. More fuss in the papers. The nasal spray company then changed the billboards to "PREMATURE EJACULATION NASAL SPRAY" and "ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION NASAL SPRAY" in the same font and colors. Personally, I was less offended by the two previous signs (and slightly amused). These were the 3rd ("Have Sex Longer") and 9th ("Bonk Longer") most complained about advertisements in Australia (and some of the few that were forced to be changed). However, I have not seen one complaint about the smoking or cancer ads at the movies (I guess because they are from the government and not some company trying to make an extra nickel).
The number 1 most complained about advertisement according to the Advertising Standards Bureau in 2008 was one that was frequently shown in the movie theater. Take a look.
I had a slight inclination where this ad was headed the first time I watched it, but I thought that was my mind dragging through the gutter. I was stunned, but not in the least offended by the commercial. In fact, I thought it was hilarious.
Another commercial that is shown (and that I absolutely love) is this one:
People do speed like crazy through Sydney. Since it is sponsored by the government and addresses an issue, it did not make the top 10 list. The above two videos are the only ones I've actually seen at the movies. For your entertainment, I'll go through the remaining 10 ads as well.
Number 2 on the Most Complained about ads in 2008 is hardly offensive in my opinion, but here it is:
What's offensive about a man named "Many Toppings" who says "Supercalafreakinawesome"? Maybe because the guy is Maori (race in New Zealand before Europeans), it's derogatory?
Number 4 on the list is another good one, but I could see how some people can be offended (although I agree with the ad). I don't know which one caused the offense, so here are two:
Ok, I need to print a retraction. As I'm writing this list, I see that there were 65+ people who complained about a smoking ad in Victoria (more liberal, artsy state south of here). It made number 5 on the list, and since I've had enough of the no-smoking ads, I'm not going to show it here (it's not even one of the gruesome ads, it's a young child left at a train station who begins to cry while the tag line "Imagine how he'll feel if you die from smoking" comes across the screen). I'll also be skipping number 7, which refers to tasteless pamphlets showing aborted fetuses (this was one of the 4 ads canceled by the Bureau).
Number 6 was an ad that was also squashed by the Advertising Standards Bureau. I wouldn't think many Coke commercials get banned, but here it is:
I guess the line "we didn't like the taste of your mother" didn't sit well with too many people.
Number 8 was a "Go Topless" ad by Virgin Mobile. I'm not sure if this was the exact one, but it's along the same line:
Lastly, Number 10. I don't see how this add is offensive at all (maybe violence or the subtle stripping), but 40+ people complained. Here it is:
I have one more video to share, something that at least deserves an honorable mention (although I don't think it is from 2008).
It's slightly ironic that most of the advertisements I've seen (and now most people who read this blog) in Australia are claimed to be offensive. By printing a list of the 10 most offensive ads, the Advertising Standards Bureau has drawn even more attention to the ads. I may have to make a complaint.