Kiwibank censured for rock-jumping advert

Last updated 11:24 22/06/2012

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Kiwibank's 10th anniversary advert, part of which seems to suggest it's okay to break "stupid" rules, has itself run into a little trouble with the authorities.

However it's not the bit about breaking the rules that has concerned some members of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.

Their issue is with a scene where a boy leaps off rocks into a river.

The advert for Kiwibank's 10th anniversary shows children taking part in several activities. It ends with the text: "We're another 10-year-old kiwi standing up for New Zealanders."

Viewers complained that the advert encouraged children to disregard rules and take part in unsafe activities.

In the river scene a boy says to the camera: "I'd stand up for trying something new and even a bit crazy." He then jumps off a rock into the river below. As he surfaces he says to the camera: "Want to join in?"

A decision published today said a majority of the complaints board found the scenario showed the boy behaving in a dangerous way and, along with the tag line, encouraged a disregard for safety.

As such, the majority said the advert had not been prepared with the due sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. A minority of the board disagreed and the complaint was upheld in part.

Kiwibank said it did not consider the scene to be socially irresponsible or unduly dangerous.

Leaping off a rock into a swimming hole involved an element of risk, but those risks were slight and mitigated by several measures, Kiwibank said.

The scene started showing a wet boy, indicating he had already checked out the jump. Only one child was jumping at a time, no swimmers were directly below the jumper, and two adults were in the foreground supervising as the boy jumped, while a family group was in the background as he surfaced.

The boy lived locally and regularly jumped at the well known swimming hole at McLaren Falls in the Kaimai Ranges.

"It would be disappointing if quintessentially Kiwi activities such as climbing trees, using rope swings, jumping into rivers and mud slides were banned from advertisements," Kiwibank said.

Advertising agency Ogilvy had liaised with Water Safety New Zealand, which had confirmed that the brief and proposed mitigation strategies were acceptable, while emphasising the significance of adult supervision.

Water Safety NZ had since raised issues about the advert, but stated it would not pursue the matter.

The majority of the complaints board expressed concerns that any adult supervision in the scene was so fleeting that the overall impression would be that the boy was shown only with young friends who were watching him jump.

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Most viewers would also have the impression that the location was a new swimming spot being tried by the boy.

The board found other scenes complained about in the advert did not breach code of ethics principles.

In one of those scenes three girls run onto a field, one of them pushing over a ground closed sign, after they are shown looking up at the sky and noticing it is not raining. One of the girls says to the camera: "I would stand up against the rules, if the rules are stupid. Would you?"

Complainants were concerned the scene encouraged children to disregard rules, while one suggested the  grounds may have been closed due to spraying of chemicals or a lawn mower in operation or because of dangerous tree branches.

The complaints board said the scene did contain an  element of challenge to authority and an element of disregard for rules, but the challenge did not reach the threshold to be in breach of the due sense of responsibility required.

- Fairfax Media

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