A New Zealand health campaign designed to help curb hepatitis C has been censored after one of its advertisements showing people raising the middle finger was deemed too offensive to air.
The campaign included videos, outdoor posters and online
material featuring actors raising their middle finger to another person, while smiling. The advertisement then goes on to show an actor having his middle finger pricked for a blood test, to determine if he has the blood-borne virus.
Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint describing the advertising imagery as deeply offensive. While the complaints board agreed that those watching the advertising were likely to understand that there is an easy finger prick test to
determine if you have been exposed to hepatitis C and a new effective treatment, meaning you can say 'Fuck you' to hep C', the context would be missing for most people who were likely to only focus on the hand gesture.
The gesture was one of the
most offensive gestures you can give to another person and always has negative connotations, the board said, disagreeing with the advertiser that the smiling faces of the characters mitigated any aggressive intent. It agreed the advertisement used an
indecent and offensive hand gesture, and was a breach of standards.
The middle finger photograph has been removed from the main campaign image in favour of a double thumbs up, but the YouTube clip remains online, and the middle finger imagery is
still featured on the campaign's website.