'Deliberately absurd' Telecom TV-throwing ad taken off air

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014
Telecom advert
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET: A character in a Telecom advert who throws a TV off a balcony could encourage others to behave with a disregard for safety, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled
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A television advert showing a man with giant hands throwing a TV off a balcony has been taken off air because it might encourage viewers to copy his behaviour.

The Telecom ad, first aired on February 28, was supposed to make fun of the debauched antics of rock stars, but backfired when a viewer complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The advert has now been taken off air and will not return.

The authority's complaints board upheld the complaint, with a majority of the board, saying it 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 might decide to emulate the "giant hands" man, and the authority - though split in its decision - agreed.

Telecom said it was making fun 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 board.

"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 said the link between throwing TVs off balconies and rock stars was too obscure and, even if the public did "get" it, throwing a TV off a balcony was still unsafe.

A minority agreed with Telecom that the "potentially irresponsible actions of the character were saved by his obvious hyperbolic and ridiculous appearance".

Telecom spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said it would not broadcast the advert again. "We deliberately made this ad absurd and farcical, to convey the message that the character's actions were humorous, and not intended to be taken seriously.

"We always look to ensure that our advertising complies with the spirit and intention of the Advertising Codes of Practice."

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- The Dominion Post

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