Earning their stripes: frisky zebras prove too racy for some PMB residents

2010-04-20 00:00

A CHEEKY billboard on Howick Road, near the show- grounds, has shocked and offended some city residents, to the surprise of the advertisers, who say this was not their intention.

The billboard for Safire Insurance, which is based in Pietermaritzburg, shows two zebras mating, with the words: “Are you covered?” The photo angle on the billboard stops just short of showing the “full monty”.

Safire CEO Pierre Bekker said that although “the image is certainly not graphic and the picture ends just after the male zebra’s shoulder”, words such as “distasteful”, “vulgar” and “offensive” have been lobbed at him by those who have taken umbrage.

“Would you drive the other way if you saw two animals mating in the Kruger Park? Would you take another route if you saw two dogs mating in the street outside your home? Would these acts be upsetting to you? It appears as if even a subtle reference to this natural act between animals has certain residents of Pietermaritzburg all in a tizzy,” Bekker said.

“The aim was to get people thinking about whether their insurance needs are being covered, and to provoke debate — in a lighthearted yet subtle way.

“This billboard is the first of a number in an ongoing campaign, so it was intended to get people to sit up and notice, which it certainly has done. We apologise to anyone we may have offended and really just ask these people to keep an open mind and follow the balance of the campaign to fully understand the message,” he added.

Leon Grobler, manager for dispute resolution at the Advertising Standards Authority, said it has not received any complaints.

“Our code has a clause on offensive advertising, which effectively says that advertising should not cause serious, widespread offence. But the fact that a particular piece of advertising may be offensive to some is not necessarily grounds for having the advertisement removed,” he said.

“When our directorate has to consider issues relating to potential offence, the approach is always an objective one, which looks at the advertising from the reasonable person’s perspective.”

Asked if South Africans are more conservative than other countries in terms of what they find to be acceptable in advertising innuendo, Grobler said they are certainly “less amenable” to certain advertising.

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