Complaint: 04/135

Vodafone "Shag" Billboard Advertisement


R. Ryburn
Upheld / Settled
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document



Chairman's Ruling

7 May 2004

Complaint 04/135

Complainant: R. Ryburn

Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Complaint: The billboard advertisement for Vodafone PXT contained the query: "FAN C A" followed by an image of a shag and a "?"

The Complainant said the advertisement was offensive, particularly in view of the sexual behaviour of teens in the western world.

The Chairman ruled that the following provision was relevant: Code of Ethics, Basic Principle 4 and Rule 5.

Vodafone said: " We acknowledge that in the case of the billboard concerned, one of the possible multiple meanings may be 'Fancy a shag7' The advertisement is intended as a piece of jocular kiwi humour. We see it more as a jocular statement rather than a serious invitation to sexual intercourse.

Vodafone is a fun, energetic and cheeky brand. We seek to portray this in the advertisements, but the last thing we want to do is offend people. An offended person is a customer lost.

We regret any distress that our advertisement has caused, however unintentional, and offer our sincere apology.

We regularly review our advertising campaigns and recently, after careful consideration which included feedback such as the Complainant's, we decided to remove the 'Fancy a shag' billboard. This advertisement will not be reappearing."

The Chairman noted the submission received from the Advertiser and was of the opinion that the matter had been resolved and could be regarded as settled. As the principles of self-regulation had been fulfilled it would serve no further purpose to place the matter before the Board.

The Chairman ruled the complaint be Settled.

Chairman's Ruling: Complaint Settled