Just before Christmas last year, one person complained that a South African TV commercial for Chicken Licken was offensive and the ad was duly banned.
The advert was quite witty and made for a good news story which was picked up by major newswire services such as the Associated Press and AFP. News that SA's new regulator, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) had deemed the ad offensive
popped up in New Zealand, Australia, America, India, and the UK. In South Africa, of course, social media homed in on the ad and it went ballistically viral.
So, if the ARB had thought about the implication of their ban and just ignored that one complaint the ad campaign would have run for a few more weeks and given the declining number of viewers who actually watch commercial breaks on TV these days,
perhaps a few hundred thousand viewers would have seen it. Instead, in South Africa alone the ad was viewed by millions of people. Quite possibly hundreds times more than would have seen the ad on television.
So, instead of protecting the sensitivities of those few people who might have found the ad offensive, banning it simply compounded the very problem the ARB was trying to solve.
South Africa's advert censor, the Advertising Standards Authority', has gone bankrupt and is being replaced by another. The ASA went into liquidation at the end of September after years of mismanagement and alleged financial impropriety.
The Advertising Regulatory Board will take over as the advert censor with a new membership and staff structure. It will be headed by former ASA legal counsel Gail Schimmel and the organisation will be funded by the advertising industry.
The brand and marketing industry is being asked to rally around the new organisation. Two other industry bodies, The Association for Communication & Advertising (ACA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), have also lent their support
to the new ARB.
The animal campaign group Peta has taken issue with a North American retailer Canada Goose which sells down filled jackets. Peta writes:
To kick off our robust anti-Canada Goose campaign across the U.S. and Canada, an enormous billboard has been erected near the retailer's flagship store in Chicago. A goose, pleading for his life, now towers over one of Chi-Town's busiest
streets, reminding drivers and pedestrians alike that geese don't want to die.
Meanwhile, in Short Hills, New Jersey, geese are making their own bus-side plea that's sure to grab folks' attention.
However not everyone is happy with the adverts leading to the advertising space company Astral, quickly taking down some of the adverts.
Peta wasn't impressed and responded:
Citing numerous complaints, the ad agency Astral Media Outdoor removed PETA's ads from several bus shelters in Toronto after they were up for just one day last month--so our legal counsel sent a letter to the agency pointing out that the
censorship violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of expression, and demanding an explanation for the removal of the ads.