Worksafe found to be misleading

July 29th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Government safety agency WorkSafe NZ has taken television advertisements off-air after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled they exaggerated the impact of workplace accidents.

The ASA said the adverts, which were designed to draw attention to the impact of workplace accidents on families, were misleading.

The embarrassing¬†admonishment stemmed¬†from WorkSafe’s claim that more than 23,000 people were severely injured or killed in New Zealand workplaces last year.

Pleased to see the ASA ruling. The definition Worksafe used as severely injured is not one that almost anyone else would think it means.

WorkSafe explained ‚Ästbut not in the broadcasts ‚Ästthat the injuries were ones that required people to have more than a week off work.

WorkSafe NZ chief executive¬†Gordon MacDonald said the government agency¬†made no apology for “challenging New Zealand to do better when it comes to keeping everyone healthy and safe at¬†work”.

WorkSafe should apologise for misleading the public. Good intentions do not justify the means. A government agency of all bodies should be concerned with accuracy.

But its advertisements, which were part funded by ACC, would be “temporarily withdrawn” and edited before being put back on air.¬†¬†¬†¬†

The ASA said most of the 23,000 injuries referred to by WorkSafe in the adverts were strains or cuts, while there were 44 deaths.

Describing those injuries¬†as “severe” created a misleading impression, the ASA said, especially given the “tone and emotive imagery” of the advertisements which included footage of workers returning from work and hugging their children.

You’d think 23,000 people had¬†broke their legs or worse from the ads.

Wellington economist Ian¬†Harrison, who brought the original¬†complaint, said WorkSafe had been clipped around the ears and he expected it would be “spewing”.

He had taken issue with the adverts because of a matter of principle, he said.

“People can advocate for what they like, but being clear about facts is absolutely essential for government departments. They shouldn’t play fast and loose.”

Well done Mr Harrison.

MacDonald said the complaint about the adverts had been a distraction.

That’s a disturbing view from a government chief executive. Rather than apologise, he labels the successful complaint a distraction.

The claim¬†that generated the most¬†controversy was¬†read out by Griffin’s Foods chief executive, Alison Barrass, who has since been appointed a director of Spark.

Another¬†‚Ästread out by farmer Sir David Fagan ‚Ästthat New Zealand’s workplace death and severe injury rate was double that of Australia was also misleading, the ASA said.

Harrison said that while the death rate was 60 per cent higher in New Zealand last year, that reflected the fact that its labour force was more heavily concentrated in hazardous occupations, and the injury rate was not higher.

So it was misleading in two areas.

Anti-fluoride ad misleading

September 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An anti-fluoridation website ad has been removed after it was found to have “unjustifiably played on fear”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about an advertisement on the Fluoride Free New Zealand website that stated doctors and dentists believed fluoride caused harm.

But in its written decision, released today, the ASA found the Fluoride Free New Zealand advertisement was likely to be misleading.

It said the claims were presented as facts but were not substantiated, and the advertisement “unjustifiably played on fear”.

The ASA ordered the ad to removed from the website.

The decision is here.

Bad ad placement

August 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has apologised for airing a condom advertisement that features a woman talking about her sexual enjoyment during a television movie about one of New Zealand’s most high-profile rape trials.

Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story¬†aired on TV One on Sunday night and told of Ms Nicholas’ fight for justice when she took a police officer and two former police officers to court over allegations of rape.

The small-screen adaptation of her plight, spanning 1981 to 2007, was the most viewed show in its time slot, with an audience of over 305,000, according to Nielsen ratings figures.

During its screening, an advertisement for Skyn condoms aired that featured a woman in her underwear saying how much she enjoyed sex.

The ad attracted immense criticism on TV One’s Facebook page and on Twitter, and complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Viewers said they were appalled and horrified by such an ad played during a real-life account of alleged sexual assault, and said it reinforced a “rape culture” in the country.

“Bloody disgusting seeing a near naked woman pitching condoms in the middle of a harrowing tale … ” wrote Stephanie Kane.

“Great drama and horrifyingly real – bad choice of advert,” wrote Suzanne Mary Bull.

It was totally inappropriate, but I doubt it was a choice. People don’t pick ads to appear during specific programmes or episodes generally. They pick timeslots and channels. The problem would be is that this programme was not flagged as having sensitive content where the ads should be vetted for appropriateness.

Inappropriate ad placement is a bigger problem online. If you write a story on someone hacked to death by an axe murderer, then Google is likely to display ads for axes ūüôā

More complainants

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A Sonja Lawson complained to The Press Council:

Miss Lawson phoned a complaint to the editor of Taranaki Daily News, followed up by a letter, alleging factually incorrect and misleading information relating to the ‘abusive faxes’ column comment. She followed this up over a month later with a further letter complaining about both articles.¬†

She complained that no response had been received to her multiple calls, faxes and now letters to her claims that the articles are inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced; that her privacy had been breached as she had name suppression; that the headlines were inaccurate and misleading; that the paper had used subterfuge and had refused to correct errors. She demanded retraction and apologies in a prominent place in the paper. 

Very ironic that she is guilty of sending offensive communications, and when the paper reports this, she starts sending them numerous communications.

The editor of Taranaki Daily News responded to the Council that the published articles had been taken from a Court of Appeal decision and a hearing in the Hawera District Court, and he was unaware of any inaccuracy. Furthermore no suppression order was in place regarding Miss Lawson. …

Miss Lawson does not have name suppression (the Court of Appeal judgment is available online) and the newspaper had a right to report each case.

I’m amazed this case even went to a full hearing of the Press Council. Her allegations of name suppression are a figment of her imagination and I thought that would be enough to make her complaint invalid.

Also in terms of dopey complaints, we have an H Malcolm who complained to the ASA over this Tui billboard:

“Mine’s a Footlong

Just like Subway‚Äôs¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Yeah Right‚ÄĚ

The delicate complainant said:

‚ÄúI believe this billboard breaches public decency by the inference to male genitalia and is unsuitable for public viewing.”

Oh dear.

Complaint of the Week

October 30th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Already had some good idiotic complaints come in to me. This week’s winner is about a Lotto Ad.

The background:

The television advertisement for Lotto promoted the $27 Million dollar draw and featured a woman sitting in a café. When she realised her table was wobbling, she pulled out a wad of notes from her bag and put it under one of the table legs to stabilise it. 

The complaint:

Complainant, H. Malhotra, said: putting the money under the leg of the table was ‚Äúvery, very disrespectful and insensitive towards people not only on the poverty line but some cultures like Hindu‚Äôs, as we do not touch money with our feet as it is always so hard to earn.‚ÄĚ The Complainant also said that the advertisement sent a ‚Äúbad‚ÄĚ message to younger people about the value of money.¬†

The lack of both a sense of humour, and also the appreciation of the context of someone having just won $27 million is staggering.

The sad thing with this stuff, is that it ends up taking up time – both the ASA’s, but often organisations complained about have to send hours or hire lawyers to deal with such stupidities.

Greenpeace ad ruled misleading

April 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Advertising Standards Authority has partially upheld a complaint against a Greenpeace television advertisement. The TV ad showing a dead penguin said:

Over 20,000 birds were killed by the ‚ÄėRena‚Äô oil spill

Deep sea oil drilling could be 1000 times worse

Bryan Leland complained pointing out that the  count for the Rena was around 1,300 not 20,000 and that the 20 million estimate for a deep sea oil drill is ridiculous as the Gulf of Mexico spill killed 3,800 seabirds.

Greenpeace’s response on the 20,000 was that research shows 10 times as many birds die in oil spills as carcasses found.

Their response on 1,000 times worse is based on the Gulf spill being over 1,000 times as much oil as the Rena. They say their advertisement was meant to be that the impact on the environment would be 1,000 times worse, not that 1,000 times as many birds would die.

Interestingly in their response Greenpeace say the complaint should be ignored because Bryan Leland is a member of the Climate Science Coalition. Unable to win on the facts, they now try to get complaints dismissed on the basis of membership of a group.  That is a terrible thing to do, and they should be ashamed. How would they like it if someone advocated that a complainant should not be heard, because they are a member of Greenpeace.

The ASA Complaints Board found:

The Complaints Board was of the view that the statement ‚Äú20,000 birds were killed‚ÄĚ was expressed in a manner that denoted a strong absolute statement of fact.¬† It said that the Advertiser had presented a best practice estimate as an absolute fact when as they had stated in their response to the complaint it had only been ‚Äúreported that over 2000 birds had been identified which had died as a direct result of the accident [Rena]‚ÄĚ.¬† Accordingly the Complaints Board said the statements expressed in the advertisement were not clearly distinguishable as opinion (as opposed to fact) and therefore the advertisement was in breach of Rule 11 of the Code of Ethics.

If Greenpeace had said “Some estimates are that as many as 20,000 birds died” then they may possibly have got away with it. Or they could have just kept to the facts and said 2,000 dead birds were found.

On the 1,000 times worse:

Turning to the second substantive claim identified in the complaint, that a deep sea drilling incident could be ‚Äú1000 times worse‚ÄĚ (than the Rena incident), the Complaints Board noted that the use of the word ‚Äúcould‚ÄĚ presented the claim as an opinion or possibility as opposed to an absolute fact.

By using “could” they get away with it, despite the fact most people would take the ad to be credibly suggesting an oil spill could kill 20 million birds, when the Gulf of Mexico spill killed just 3,800.

Incidentally, even if the figure of 20 million was correct, it would be useful to remember that predators such as possums and stoats kill 25 million birds a a year in New Zealand.

Pushing the boundaries of truth

November 2nd, 2010 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday about the claim to remember McDonalds opening in Porirua, which happened when Kris was one year old. Since then, Whale has produced a series of photos showing other events Kris remembers being at. This is my favourite.

A reader has sent me a copy that Labour has distributed around the electorate. It is below.

Fa’Afoi Brochure

Just hold your screen on its side to read it. Anyway the key quote is “I had a great start because my family settled in Mana”.

Now this is pushing the truth to breaking point. Yes Kris has cousins and uncles and aunts in Mana whom he visited. But he was born and raised in Christchurch. 99% of people reading his brochure would take his statement to imply he grew up in Mana.

I don’t personally think it is a huge issue that Kris was not raised in Mana. Neither was Winnie Laban off memory. But this is the second time that Labour and Kris has pushed the boundaries of the truth to create a false impression – they obviously think it is vital.

One could also quibble over his slogan to vote Faafoi to vote for more jobs for Mana. Never known a backbench Opposition MP to be able to create jobs – but that at least is a subjective view that can be debated.

It would be interesting if someone complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the brochure, as that would give a ruling on whether or not the brochure stretches the truth so far as to be misleading.

I had an uncle and aunt in Perth whom I visited occasionally. I would never claim “I had a great start because my family settled in Perth”.

One in three women do not live in fear

October 5th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Women’s Refuge do a great job supporting female victims (and their children) of domestic violence. I always donate to them, and it is a disgrace how many women get beaten, and often killed, by their partners. Of course domestic violence is not all one way, but far far more women are hospitalised and killed then men.

However they sometimes let themselves down with their advocacy, and the Advertising Standards Authority has just upheld complaints over their recent advertisements. The Herald reports:

The Advertising Standards Authority has labelled Women’s Refuge claims that a third of women live in fear as “exaggerated”.

The body upheld two complaints about fundraising print and television advertisements that ran in July. In the newspaper version the Saatchi & Saatchi ads said: “One in three New Zealand women need your help. Because living in fear isn’t living.”

The television version repeated the statistic and asked viewers to “stop the abuse before it starts”. …

In its response, Women’s Refuge said the statistic came from sources including 2004 research which found 33 to 39 per cent of women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

Further, a World Health Organisation study in Auckland and Waikato found one in three women experience physical or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. …

“While the majority of the complaints board acknowledged the veracity of the statistics, it was concerned that a study restricted to women living in Waikato and Auckland was used as the basis for national statistics.”

Similarly, it was concerned with the 2004 lifetime violence finding, which was based on an episode of violence becoming the “basis for fear”.

“In the majority view, it was inappropriate to extrapolate the claim ‘one in three women … are living in fear …’ from the research.

It is a good decision. If WR had said one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, then they would have been on solid grounds. But to interpret that as one in three women live in fear was painting a false picture of NZ and NZ women. Thankfully, many women don’t live in fear. The moment a partner whacks them, they throw the bum out, and move on with their lives. I wish more women would do this – few things are sadder than seeing women continue in abusive relationships because they think “something” is better than “nothing” when it comes to relationships.

Now that’s an offensive ad

August 21st, 2009 at 8:08 pm by David Farrar


Stuff reports:

The brains trust behind the new Hell Pizza campaign is a 19-year-old advertising student and his three friends.

Hell Pizza spokesman Matt Blomfield said they had brought in the four students from the Auckland University of Technology to revitalize the brand.

‚ÄúAll the advertising agencies are crap so we thought we‚Äôd let some kids have a crack,‚ÄĚ he said.

That is such a Hell thing to say.

Advertising Standards Authority executive director Hilary Souter said today they had received one complaint, but more were likely.

Yeah I think that is a safe call.

Race relations commissioner Joris de Bres saw the humour in it but said: “Well I just hope their pizzas aren’t in as poor taste as their advertising.”

I’m impressed by such a sensible response to it. Recognise its bad taste, but not over-reacting to the humour.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil


July 12th, 2009 at 10:11 am by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Air New Zealand’s decision to parade its staff in nothing but body paint has sparked calls for a cover-up.

While the airline’s television advertisement showing airline ground staff and cabin crew servicing the aircraft and passengers in only painted-on uniforms has been a hit on YouTube, it is causing offence in some quarters.

New Zealand’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority, has received a complaint about the advertisement from a viewer concerned that it was airing on TV at a time when children were watching with their parents.

Really don’t some people have better things to do than complain about ads.

Meanwhile the new Air New Zealand safety demonstration is over four million views on You Tube.

I can’t recall a more successful advertising concept in recent times.

Top 10 complained ads

May 6th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT has the top ten complained about ads:

The 10 most complained about ads of 2008

1. Tui Beer, billboard. “Let’s take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ…Yeah Right — Tui”. (86 complaints). Settled, when withdrawn by advertiser.

2. Brandex Adventure Sports Ltd, television. Skins sportswear, touting the physicality of African-American athletes, saying they have a “warrior” mentality and “killer instinct”. (73). Upheld, racial stereotyping.

3. Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand, television. A drinking “Uncle Mark” grabs a young boy, swinging him into furniture on an “aeroplane ride”. (68). Settled, when advertiser and broadcasters resolved to show it only after 8.30pm.

4. New Zealand First, direct mail advertisement. A NZ First flyer said an anti-John Key site had been set up in the name of the ad’s recipient. (43). Not upheld.

5. Advanced Medical Institute, billboard. “Want long-lasting Sex?”, ad for nasal medication to battle premature ejaculation. (38). Upheld, did not meet due sense of social responsibility.

6. Sky Television, billboard. An ad for a Sky television programme stated, “all business considered, even from Jews”. (27). Settled, advertisement removed and an apology published.

7. Beds R Us, television. A couple searching for the perfect bed are shown kissing passionately, then the female, clad in underwear, straddles the male. (23). Settled, ad replaced after complaints that sex was being used to sell.

8. Fonterra, television. In an Anchor trim milk ad, a child tells his mother “you’re fat”, then adds, “yeah mum, you’re not fat. Nana’s fat”. (18). Not upheld, light-hearted and unlikely to cause offence.

9. Tui Beer, billboard. “Sure, I’ve got ten minutes to talk about Jehovah”. (16). No grounds to proceed, did not meet the threshold to cause serious offence.

10. Hell Pizza, direct mail. `$25 Hot as Hell” ad showed a photo of a Thai woman in high heels and a bikini, promising a Thai massage, if the offer was redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase. (15). No grounds to proceed, as it did not meet the threshold to breach the Advertising Codes.

I wonder how many of them are on You Tube?

Blog Bits

November 25th, 2008 at 5:07 pm by David Farrar
  1. Busted Blonde has a post on domestic violence and how she spent several years in an abusive relationship. Go read it, and make sure you show it to any friends who need to read it.
  2. Adam Smith blogs on the Giles cartoons. As a child I loved Giles cartoons, and every year could not wait for the annual. Grandma was my favourite character. For those who never saw them, you missed out on classics.
  3. Matthew Hooton makes the case for an Upper House.
  4. Steven Price reviews two decisions by the Advertising Standards Authority.
  5. Matt Nolan wants some better statistics from the Government.

Labour loses appeal against misleading ad

November 7th, 2008 at 1:54 pm by David Farrar

Labour have lost their appeal against the decision of the Advertising Standards Authority that their “Two Johns” ad was misleading.

Leadership you can trust – Yeah Right. Can’t even trust their ads.

Labour’s attack ad ruled “misleading”

October 29th, 2008 at 8:08 pm by David Farrar

Now this is a serious case of egg on face. You run an ad on TV, radio and the Internet about how John Key can’t be trusted. And the Advertising Standards Authority finds that in fact it is the advertisement that can not be trusted as it is misleading.

What is interesting is that the TV and radio ads are governed by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (appointed by the Government) as “election programmes”. But because Labour placed it on You Tube, it meant the online version could be scrutinised by the Advertising Standards Authority (industry appointed).

The reason the advertisement got pinged was because Labour claimed John Key was cutting KiwiSaver in half, and the ASA found this is not factually correct. Only the employer contribution has been reduced from 2% to 4%, but the employee tax credit remains, as does the initial $1,000 and help for home loans etc.

Labour now has to decide whether to pull the advertisement from television. They do not legally have to do so, but it won’t be a good look to keep running an advertisement that has been officially found to be “misleading”.