ASA dismisses complaint against baby ad

2014-02-07 09:19

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Johannesburg - The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint that a television advertisement involving a baby may encourage some psychotic adults to commit violent acts against children.

"The directorate [of the ASA] concurs with the respondent in that the aim of the commercial is to push the sentiment of care and adoration for the baby, who is used as a metaphor or a symbol for the father’s vehicle," the ASA said in a ruling on Thursday.

"The commercial does not depict or suggest any kind of violence against the baby and is metaphoric in nature."

Julia van Biljon lodged a complaint against an Automark advertisement which promoted the availability of its used cars on its website.

The advertisement shows a father giving a baby a soapy bath on a driveway next to a garage door. He then picks up a pressurised hose, turns around, and sprays water.

When the camera angle moves, one realises that the car is situated exactly where the baby was. A male voice states “It’s not just a car to you, find your baby on …”


Van Biljon submitted that the commercial was offensive and irresponsible as it could encourage certain psychotic adults to commit violent acts against children.

The advertising agency, DRAFTFCB, on behalf of the respondent, said that utmost care was taken to ensure that babies used on set were well rested, cared for, and relaxed.

"Clearly the baby is used as a metaphor for the adoration and care people often have for their vehicles," it said in its response to the complaint.

"It is difficult to see why this commercial will influence psychotic people to act out against children."

The ASA said it looked at whether the commercial was offensive, and whether adults would copy the action and subject children within their communities to similar acts.

The ASA said it was satisfied that a reasonable viewer would interpret the commercial as a light-hearted communication to persuade viewers to opt for the used vehicles, as they had been "lovingly taken care of like a baby".

"The directorate does not believe that people would automatically be driven to act violently against babies and children after being exposed to the commercial."

Read more on:    advertising standards authority  |  media

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