Firm defiant over signs

00:54, Feb 20 2013
'Offensive' advertising
COMPLAINT UPHELD: The Advertising Standards Authority has requested images such as these be removed from Independent Forklifts' vans. This image is less explicit than others

An ad that got a Washdyke business in hot water has failed to offend the majority of online Timaru Herald commenters.

Independent Forklifts has earned a slap on the wrist from the Advertising Standards Authority for using a "sexualised and objectified" woman in scanty clothing on its vans.

However, the company will challenge the judgment which deemed the advertising campaign offensive.

Today, the Herald asked readers if the sign was offensive. More than 80 per cent of 124 who responded before 1.30pm said it was not.

While the informal poll was not scientific, comments left on Facebook, reflected a similar result, with many users saying the ad was "tacky but not offensive".

A commenter, under the name Andy Lord, said: "Only one complaint in three years and go figure, who has the problem. Harmless fun. Would the same person complain about Dan Cartors ads."


The campaign features different women with a forklift in the background. The text reads: "You know you're not the first ... But does that really matter? Used Forklifts."

A complaint was upheld on the grounds the ad was offensive, saying it used inappropriate sexual appeal.

General manager Merv Dore disagrees and says he will appeal the decision.

"There is so much of that sort of thing around; we feel a bit victimised really."

The campaign had been running for three years without complaint, he said.

"Half of our vans have got some sort of image on them; this is the first complaint in three years."

He said the imagery was acceptable, considering All Black Dan Carter appeared in his underwear in a Jockey campaign.

"The forklift industry is a male-dominated industry and an equal opportunity industry."

He said each van cost $1500 to signwrite and the signage would not be removed. ASA decisions are not legally enforceable. The self-governing agency can only ask that advertisements be withdrawn. Requests are usually complied with.

Two of the vans with the disputed theme operate out of Timaru, three out of Christchurch and one out of Nelson.

The complaint, by M Robertson, said it was "just offensive to see that women's bodies are used to sell a service that clearly targets men".

"It becomes a sort of attention-seeking behaviour that is in many ways detrimental to how all women are viewed," the authority was told.

The watchdog also said as the advert was on a vehicle, it would be highly visible to the general public, including children, rather than just its presumed target market of adult men. The Jockey ads were different as the product being sold was underwear.

The Advertising Code states products cannot be promoted through the use of exploitative or degrading sexual images, especially if the product is completely unrelated to such images.


Is advertising such as this offensive, or is Merv Dore right in saying it is not offensive? Phone reporter Al Williams on 687 1305 from 8.30am or email

The Timaru Herald