Bank's IVF ad spawns complaints to watchdog

ASB's new ad offering loans to parents to pay for fertility treatment has sparked a flurry of complaints to the advertising watchdog.

The bank's TV ad, which replaces the popular "Goldstein" series, was launched on Sunday as part of a major ASB rebranding and shows a couple struggling to pay for unsuccessful IVF treatment, then borrowing money from the ASB and going on to have triplets.

By Thursday, seven people had complained about the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority, on a range of grounds, including concerns that it was socially irresponsible, exploited a vulnerable audience or encouraged an unrealistic expectation of a successful outcome to fertility treatment.

The authority is expected to make a ruling on the complaints within a couple of weeks.

One father whose twins were born six years ago after a successful course of IVF told the Star-Times they considered the advertisement "disgusting", and "exploitative of people in a desperate situation".

About 900 IVF babies are born each year. Treatment costs $10,000-$12,000 per cycle and more than half of the cycles are privately funded. The government spends about $13 million a year on fertility treatment, fully funding childless people for up to two cycles but only if they meet stringent criteria.

A spokesperson for the ASB said the bank had been lending people money for fertility treatment for years but the TV ad was an attempt to "normalise" the idea of taking out a loan for IVF.

She said the ad showed the bank took its relationship with customers seriously, and "we want to give people permission to come and talk to us about these things if they're not already".

Sunday Star Times