ASB rules radio ad offensive to disabled

Staff Writer

A radio ad that was broadcast on River 949 in Ipswich has been found to have breached regulations by the Advertising Standards Bureau board on the grounds of discrimination.

The ad, for River client Llewellyn Motors, featured a jingle with the lyrics 'We can't be beaten', and the voice-over read "Llewellyn Motors won't be beaten, just like a drum that is next to a guy with no arms".

The complainant wrote to the station, and subsequently the ASB, stating;

"I referred this to the radio company and they believe that this is comedy. As such they do not feel it breaches the code of conduct. It is offensive, extremely poor comedy if that and totally unnecessary to the ad's intended audience and message".

The client responded to the ASB stating;

"We have reviewed the compliant received regarding our radio commercial aired on River 94.9 and believe the commercials are presented in a comedic frame and not discrimination or vilification of a disability.Our Creative & Marketing Team are aware and comply with the ASB guidelines".

However the ASB board disagreed, and have ruled that the ad was discriminatory, saying in their determination; 

"Following considerable discussion in the current matter, the majority of the Board considered that the advertisement is presenting the loss of limbs in a negative way and is suggesting that losing a limb would prevent you from doing certain things. The Board noted that the reference is not a true depiction of the capacity of a person with a disability and is not relevant to the product."

"The Board noted that the use of the reference to a disabled person does not have any relevance to the promotion of a sale for vehicles and considered that overall, using a disability to make a joke, is inappropriate and does have the potential to make people think less of a person with a disability and that it did amount to discrimination."

Finding that the advertisement breached Section 2.1 of the Code, the Board upheld the complaints. Subsequent to the finding, the client has stated;

"We have reviewed the case report and shared with our outsourced creative agency. Both of us did not intend for anyone to be offended, no malice was intended.

We have reviewed our internal processes to ensure we are in compliance with the Advertising Standards Bureau.

The commercial will not be used again."

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