Love your Condom Poster
C. Da Silva
New Zealand AIDS Foundation
Love your Condom Poster
DATE OF MEETING
19 December 2013
No Grounds to Proceed
Complaint: The "Love Your Condom" poster advertisement for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation stated:
Complainant C. Da Silva, said: "... this company is using a Christian Christmas song to make ads to use a condom. I am not opposed to have ads about using condoms and I understand tongue and cheek, and all their ads are, but this is a bit much. I saw a poster on ponsonby rd this morning and I found it highly offensive ..."
The relevant provisions were Basic Principle 4 and Rules 5 and 11 of the Code of Ethics.
The Chairman noted the offence the advertisement has caused the Complainant.
She turned first to consider the advertisements under Rule 11 of the Code of Ethics and noted that Rule 11 of the Code of Ethics provided for robust expression of belief or opinion being as expressed by the Advertiser and, therefore, such opinions may be robust. However, opinion should be clearly distinguishable from factual information. The identity of an Advertiser in matters of public interest or political issues should also be clear.
Also applicable were the Advocacy Principles, developed by the Complaints Board in previous Decisions for the application of Rule 11. These said:
- That Section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, in granting the right of freedom of expression, allows advertisers to impart information and opinions but that in exercising that right what was factual information and what was opinion, should be clearly distinguishable.
- That the right of freedom of expression as stated in Section 14 is not absolute as there could be an infringement of other people's rights. Care should be taken to ensure that this does not occur.
- That the Codes fetter the right granted by Section 14 to ensure there is fair play between all parties on controversial issues. Therefore in advocacy advertising and particularly on political matters the spirit of the Code is more important than technical breaches. People have the right to express their views and this right should not be unduly or unreasonably restricted by Rules.
- That robust debate in a democratic society is to be encouraged by the media and advertisers and that the Codes should be interpreted liberally to ensure fair play by the contestants.
- That it is essential in all advocacy advertisements that the identity of the advertiser is clear.
The Chairman said the poster was clearly identifiable as a "Love your Condom" advertisement by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, advocating their stance on safe sex and agreed the advertisements were in the category of advocacy advertising and included an important public health message to help reduce the rate of HIV infections within New Zealand. It also noted that the Advertiser was clearly identified in the advertisement by the logo and website address. Having made the above observations, the Chairman said the advertisement was not in breach of Rule 11 of the Code of Ethics.
When considering the Complainant's concern about the use of the lyrics of a Christian Christmas song to promote the use of condoms, she acknowledged that while some may find the humour in bad taste, in the light of generally prevailing community standards the matter did not reach the threshold to cause serious or widespread offence.
Accordingly, in her view the advertisement met the due sense of social responsibility required and there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes.
Accordingly, the Chairman ruled that there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.
Chairman's Ruling: Complaint No Grounds to Proceed