Complaint: 17/266

30 Seconds, Television

Details

Complainants
advertisers
30 Seconds
Year
2017
Media
Television
Product
Household Goods
Clauses
Decision
Not Upheld
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document

Document

2017_26600.png

COMPLAINT NUMBER 17/266

COMPLAINANT M Ayoung ADVERTISER 30 Seconds ADVERTISEMENT 30 Seconds, Television DATE OF MEETING 10 October 2017

OUTCOME Not Upheld

SUMMARY

The television advertisement for 30 Seconds Shower Cleaner showed "Professor Yaki Yakamoto" using the product on the shower in a dressing gown with his hair wrapped in a towel. He said, in part: "Cleaning shower now easy peasy with new 30 Seconds Shower Cleaner. Soap scum. Grime. Bacteria. No wiping, no scrubbing. Just spray and walk away."

The Complainant was offended by the advertisement because, in their view, it was a racist and derogatory portrayal of Asian people.

The Advertiser responded to the complaint and noted earlier Decisions where the Complaints Board had not upheld similar complaints and were of the view the character was a charming, well liked, kiwi icon. The Advertiser said, in part "We take considerable care in maintaining our reputation as a well-known, well liked brand and our brand ambassador is an integral part of this."

The majority of the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not reach the threshold to cause serious or widespread offense to Asian people specifically, or people in general. It said the ethnic background of the actor was not a relevant factor in the portrayal of the 'mad Professor' character or the cleaning product being sold. The majority noted the intended humour of the advertisement where the 'mad Professor' character was shown in his bath robe with his hair in a towel and the inclusion of the familiar catchphrase: "spray and walk away" and ruled it was unlikely to cause offense, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

A minority said the ethnicity of the character and his accent was a significant factor in the intended humour of the advertisement. The minority said there was a shift in tolerance for such representations and noted the significant growing Asian community in New Zealand. The minority said the advertisement was likely to cause offense and had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.

However, in accordance with the majority, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not

Upheld

[No further action required]

Please note this headnote does not form part of the Decision.



COMPLAINTS BOARD DECISION

The Chair directed the Complaints Board to consider the advertisement with reference to

Basic Principle 4 and Basic Principle 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the Code for People in Advertising.

This required the Complaints Board to consider whether the advertisement portrayed people in a manner which is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule or taking in to account generally prevailing community standards, is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence on the grounds of their gender; race; colour; ethnic or national origin; age; cultural, religious, political or ethical belief; sexual orientation; marital status; family status; education; disability; occupational or employment status. Stereotypes may be used to simplify the process of communication in relation to both the product offered and the intended consumer. However, advertisements should not use stereotypes in the portrayal of the role, character and behaviour of groups of people in society which, taking into account generally prevailing community standards, is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

Basic Principle 6 of the Code for People in Advertising provides for the humorous and satirical treatment of people and groups of people is acceptable so long as it is unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule and the advertisement should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.

The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

The Complaint

The Complainant was offended by the advertisement because, in their view, it was a racist and derogatory portrayal of Asian people. The Complainant said "my emotional reaction was

dislike, offended at the inauthenticity of representation of an Asian person - the over

emphasis/exaggeration of the actor/brand ambassador's accent, and unnatural facial expressions. What can I say that hasn't been the reaction of NZ Asian viewers before me?

The character is derogatory, racist stereotype, promotes mockery, promotes hate, hate

towards immigrants and locals... Tell me which part of the advertisement do you find funny?

and why is it funny?"

The Advertiser's Response from 30 Seconds

The Advertiser responded to the complaint and noted earlier Decisions where the

Complaints Board had not upheld similar complaints and were of the view the character was "a charming, well liked, kiwi icon. We take considerable care in maintaining our reputation as a well-known, well liked brand and our brand ambassador is an integral part of this."

"I draw your attention to the ASA ruling from complaint 16/153 from 2016, which raised similar issues, where the ASA board unanimously decided that 'the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, and that the portrayal of people shown, although offensive to the complainants, could not be said to be reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, contempt or ridicule in the light of generally prevailing community standards'

With regards to Ming's portrayal of the character, the ASA concluded that it was not 'racist or derogatory' and nor was it 'degrading to the Asian community and did not portray Asian people in a negative way'... We agree with the ASA Complaints Board's ruling that the advert is 'light hearted' and takes a humorous approach to promoting the product. This comes from the natural, genuine delivery that Ming brings to the character. As we have said

in the past, Ming is not an actor, he is not putting on a specific accent, he brings an authenticity to the role which is what makes it so likeable and memorable."

Precedent Decisions

The following precedent Decisions were referred to by the Complainant and Advertiser in their correspondence.

Decision 16/153

The television advertisement for the product 30 Seconds Window Wonder showed an Asian man in a white laboratory coat with his wife introducing and demonstrating the product. The advertisement stated, in part:

"Just a spray to clean all outside windows. No ladder. No Scrubbing. No wiping... New 30 Seconds Window Wonder. I wonder why they never think of it before."

The Complainant was offended by the advertisement because, in their view, it was a racist and derogatory portrayal of Asian people. The Complainant said showing the man in the advertisement speaking poorly created a joke of Asian people and had a negative impact on New Zealand. The Complainant also raised concerns the woman shown in the advertisement was portrayed as a subservient wife.

The Complaints Board said the advertisement was not degrading to people of Asian ethnicity and did not portray Asian people in a negative way. The Board referred to precedent decision (07/471). The Board disagreed that the Professor's wife was shown as subservient or that the advertisement was sexist. It said the husband and wife appeared to be a normal couple completing household chores together. As such, the Complaints Board said the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to most people and had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.

The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.

Decision 07/471

The television advertisement for the product 30 Second Spray (Key No: 30S 30 001) showed an Asian man in a white laboratory coat introducing and demonstrating the product. The advertisement commenced with the presenter showing the product to the viewer as he proclaimed: "30 Second Spray and Walk Away is a simple solution for lichen, algae, mould and moss." He demonstrates the use of the product and continues with: "Look. I spray and walk away" using his arm in a dramatic gesture to highlight the fact that he simply walks away.

Time passes and he is seen returning to the lichen previously sprayed. He says: "Look lichen die. I walk away." He returns again later and says: "Look lichen still die. I still walk away." The final screen shows the presenter proudly holding the product before the viewer and saying: "30 Second Spray and Walk Away".

...

The Complaints Board perused the correspondence relevant to the complaint and viewed the television advertisement. It noted that Complainant, S. Cooper, together with Duplicate Complainants L. Chong, C. Eng and P. Kavanagh, were of the view that the advertisement was insulting and offensive.

The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with reference to the Code for People in Advertising, Basic Principles 3 and 6.

...

The Complaints Board confirmed that a total of four complaints had been received. It then took into account the lengths to which the Advertiser had gone to assess attitudes towards the character in the advertisement both prior to the production of the advertisement and before screening it. It noted the explanations received that the speech and mannerisms were entirely those of the Ming-Jen Huang who appeared to be proud of his performance and subsequent recognition. The Complaints Board noted that the character, Professor Yaki Yakamoto, had had a positive effect on sales of the product.

Taking all of the above into consideration, the Complaints Board was unanimously of the view that the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, and that the portrayal of people shown, although offensive to the complainants, could not be said to be reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, contempt or ridicule in the light of generally prevailing community standards. As such the Complaints Board ruled that it was not in breach of Basic Principles 3 or 6 of the Code for People in Advertising.

The Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the complaint.

Complaints Board Discussion

The Complaints Board considered whether the depiction of the character in the 30 Seconds advertisement before it was likely to cause serious or widespread offense to people of

Asian ethnicity or people in general.

The majority of the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not reach the threshold to cause serious or widespread offense to Asian people specifically, or people in general. The majority took into account the earlier Decisions which dealt with similar concerns as those raised by the Complainant and were Not Upheld. The majority did say that, compared with previous advertisements, the advertisement before it was lacking in obvious humour which had been more overt and slapstick in the past advertisements. However, the majority was of the view the ethnic background of the actor was not a relevant factor in the portrayal of the

'mad Professor' character or the cleaning product being sold.

The majority noted the intended humour of the advertisement where the 'mad Professor' character was shown in his bath robe with his hair in a towel and the inclusion of the familiar catchphrase: "spray and walk away". From its perspective, the intended humour was not related to the 'Professor's' ethnicity but to his eccentric nature and association and recognition with the 30 Seconds brand and was unlikely to cause offense, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

In consideration of the above, the majority ruled the advertisement did not reach threshold to breach of Basic Principles 2, 3, 4 or 6 of the Code for People in Advertising and had been prepared with a due standard of social responsibility to consumers and society required by Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics.

A minority disagreed. It said the ethnicity of the character and his accent was a significant factor in the intended humour of the advertisement. The minority said there was a shift in tolerance for such representations and noted the significant growing Asian community in New Zealand. The minority said the depiction of the Asian man in the advertisement was offensive and offended against community standards. The minority said the advertisement was likely to cause offence to people of Asian origin and others generally and was not saved by humour. The minority said the advertisement had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility in breach of the Code for People in Advertising and the Code of Ethics.

However, in accordance with the majority, the Complaints Board ruled to Not Uphold the complaint.



Decision: Complaint Not Upheld

DESCRIPTION OF ADVERTISEMENT

The television advertisement for 30 Seconds Shower Cleaner showed "Professor Yaki Yakamoto" using the product on the shower in a dressing gown with his hair wrapped in a towel. He said, in part: "Cleaning shower now easy peasy with new 30 Seconds Shower Cleaner. Soap scum. Grime. Bacteria. No wiping, no scrubbing. Just spray and walk away."

COMPLAINT FROM M AYOUNG

I find the actor in the 30 Seconds Spray and Walk Away Shower Cleaner television advertisement an offensive stereotype which can promote racism. I am a New Zealand born Chinese person, and English is my first language. I looked up the advertisement on YouTube after seeing it on television and saw that the actor in the advertisement(s) is Taiwanese imitating a Japanese man. This ad reminded me of actor Mickey Rooney playing the Japanese character in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'.

According to ABS this does not adhere to the principle of social responsibility, and rule 5: Offensiveness - Advertisements should not contain anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services).

FURTHER RESPONSE FROM COMPLAINANT FOLLOWING COMPLAINTS BOARD REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION

Please look at the last comment on this thread, and the third to last comment on this page https://e2nz.org/2015/08/05/is-this-ad-racist/

Television advertising provokes emotion in an audience. I may not be a part of the majority of the targeted audience watching, which this advertisement intends to incite humour to but I am a part of the audience watching. My emotional reaction was dislike, offended at the inauthenticity of representation of an Asian person - the over emphasis/exaggeration of the actor/brand ambassador's accent, and unnatural facial expressions. What can I say that hasn't been the reaction of NZ Asian viewers before me? The character is derogatory, racist stereotype, promotes mockery, promotes hate, hate towards immigrants and locals.

Not everyone who is offended will complain to the ASA. Read the comments on the 30

Seconds ltd Facebook page. They are humous to the majority. If I must be specific which I

do not like to out of respect - the majority is white https://www.facebook.com/30secondsNZ/

You ask what part is offensive? I don't need to re-watch the advertisement. Are you familiar with "blackface"? Please read this short read approximately 30 second read - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/boglarka-balogh-blackface-offensive

It is like a snide joke. After the joke is told, the joke teller turns to the minority and says "no

offensive" as if to tell you not to be offended.

Tell me which part of the advertisement do you find funny? and why is it funny?

If the general majority would not know the story about the character. Why did you refer me to a previous precedent where a lot of the response was explaining who the character was,

who the actor (who is not really an actor) was? What was the point? Please enlighten me

with the joke? Please explain in detail what part was funny?

Should I take a poll on Facebook or Twitter? Something like - do you find this advertisement funny, what parts did you find funny? Should I get back to you on that?

P.s. not convinced this is offensive and the intentions were not to offend? When "racist 30 seconds ltd" is searched on Bing. This link comes up: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/thats-racist/videos

Let me predict the response. It was not our intentions for anyone to be offended. I expect that.



CODE OF ETHICS

Basic Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.

CODE FOR PEOPLE IN ADVERTISING

Basic Principles 2: Advertisements should not portray people in a manner which is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

Basic Principles 3: Advertisements should not portray people in a manner which, taking into account generally prevailing community standards, is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence on the grounds of their gender; race; colour; ethnic or national origin; age; cultural, religious, political or ethical belief; sexual orientation; marital status; family status; education; disability; occupational or employment status.

Basic Principles 4: Stereotypes may be used to simplify the process of communication in relation to both the product offered and the intended consumer. However, advertisements should not use stereotypes in the portrayal of the role, character and behaviour of groups of people in society which, taking into account generally prevailing community standards, is reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

Basic Principles 6: Humour and satire are natural and accepted features of the relationship between individuals and groups within the community. Humorous and satirical treatment of people and groups of people is acceptable, provided that, taking into account generally prevailing community standards, the portrayal is not likely to cause serious or widespread offence, hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule.

RESPONSE FROM ADVERTISER: 30 SECONDS

Contact person for advertising complaints
Clare Nassau
Sue Surjupersad
Name and contact at creative agency
Craig Newton
Name and contact at media agency
Selena Mihaljevich
Bloodhound Media Ltd




A basic, neutral description of the advertisement
30 Seconds Professor introduces and demonstrates how to clean your shower with
ease. The focus is on minimising cleaning
time by removing soap scum, grime, bacteria from the shower, no wiping, no scrubbing
required, just spray and walk away.
Date advertisement began
It launched on air Feb 2015,
We normally two flights per year (Feb and
July for 2-3weeks at a time)
Where the advertisement appeared (all locations e.g. TV, Newspaper Website
Television & Online (PreRolls) on
NZHerald.co.nz, Stuff.co.nz & YouTube.com
Accessible from website and social media pages
Is the advertisement still accessible - where and until when?
It ran in July 2017 and it scheduled again for
February 2018.... Accessible from website and social media pages
A copy of digital media file(s) of the advertisement - if the complaint relates to
on-screen graphic, please send a broadcast
quality version

Who is the product / brand target audience?
Please provide a copy of the media schedule.
We target Homeowners 35-59 Years.

Re: 30 Seconds Shower Cleaner (Complaint 17/266)

Thank you for sending this through to us. It is very unfortunate that a complaint of this nature has been raised against our advertisement. We are concerned by the views and opinions expressed by M Ayoung, as our advertisements are not intended to be offensive nor are they designed to encourage racism.

We consider this to be quite a serious accusation without any true basis. There is no benefit for our company to engage in any form of racism. This is not what we are about at all, and we have proven this in the past.

As the ASA is aware we have received complaints of this nature which have not been upheld by the ASA. I draw your attention to the ASA ruling from complaint 16/153 from 2016, which raised similar issues, where the ASA board unanimously decided that 'the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, and that the portrayal of people shown, although offensive to the complainants, could not be said to be reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, contempt or ridicule in the light of generally prevailing community standards'

With regards to Ming's portrayal of the character, the ASA concluded that it was not 'racist or derogatory' and nor was it 'degrading to the Asian community and did not portray Asian people in a negative way'.

Although this particular complaint is about a different ad to the one in 16/153 the same elements of the complaint have been raised and we believe that the latest ASA ruling is relevant to the current complaint. (note, this shower cleaner ad has been on air for over 3 years and this is one of our top selling indoor cleaning products)

We agree with the ASA Complaints Board's ruling that the advert is 'light hearted' and takes a humorous approach to promoting the product. This comes from the natural, genuine delivery that Ming brings to the character. As we have said in the past, Ming is not an actor, he is not putting on a specific accent, he brings an authenticity to the role which is what makes it so likeable and memorable.

As the Fair Go Community Awards showed a couple years ago, our Professor is a charming, well liked, kiwi icon. We take considerable care in maintaining our reputation as a well- known, well liked brand and our brand ambassador is an integral part of this.

It is regrettable that the Complainant has a different perspective on this, we believe that this is at odds with the wider community whom have consistently received our ads warmly.

If you require any further information, please get in touch with me directly and I will respond promptly.

The Advertiser did not want to add anything further to the response.


RESPONSE FROM MEDIA - CAB

Can we please table the precedent decisions. CAB have nothing more to add, just time for another look at the issue.