Telecom pinged for TV-throwing ad

Last updated 10:36 20/05/2014

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Telecom has been reprimanded for an advertisement showing a man with giant hands throwing a television from a balcony.

The ad was supposed to make fun of the debauched antics of rock stars, but backfired on the mobile company when a viewer complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) it promoted unsafe behaviour because people might do the same.

After an adjudication by the ASA complaints board, the complaint was upheld.

A majority of the board said the ad encouraged a disregard for safety and "[was not] prepared with a due [amount] of social responsibility".

Telecom was advertising its deal with music site Spotify and said the ad was based on "well-known historical incidents of various rock stars throwing TVs out of hotel windows".

The complainant said someone from the public might decide to emulate the "giant hands" man, and the ASA board, though split, agreed.

Telecom said it was making comedy out of rock star misbehaviour and nobody would seriously think of emulating the man.

"Telecom believes that the content of this TV ad is sufficiently absurd, satiric and farcical as not to be taken seriously by viewers," it told the hearing.

"While throwing a TV off a balcony in real life is dangerous and illegal, most viewers are capable of recognising the obvious hyperbolic nature of the TV ad."

But a majority of the complaints board said "while the character's giant hands were obviously hyperbolic, the actions of the man were too realistic to be considered hyperbolic".

It also said the link between throwing TVs off balconies and rock stars was too obscure for the general public to "get" and even if they did, throwing a TV off a balcony was still unsafe.

A minority agreed with Telecom the "potentially irresponsible actions of the character were saved by his obvious hyperbolic and ridiculous appearance" and "the fantastical nature of the advertisement was unlikely to encourage a disregard for safety".

Telecom has since removed the advertisement.

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