Australian domain provider Crazy Domains has been reprimanded over a recent advertising campaign after the Ad Standards Community Panel ruled it breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code Of Ethics.
The ad in question, which aired on television as both a 30-second and 15-second spot, was ruled to have breached the code due to its depiction of “illegal, unhygienic behaviour”.
The spot depicts a group of men on a night out, and follows one as he breaks away from the group and publicly urinates on a shop front, before a message appears on the screen: “The real world sucks for business. You’re better off online.”
Ad Standards received multiple complaints about the advertisement. These raised concerns including the illegality of public urination and the fact the ad aired during PG programming, at times when children could reasonably be assumed to be watching.
“My child was home to see it. It is offensive and degrading, showing men urinating outdoors whilst drunk,” said one comment.
“I believe it encourages and promotes binge drinking and public urination,” said another. “This behaviour is illegal, unhygienic and offensive.”
In its initial response to the complaints, Crazy Domains insisted the advertisement is designed to “encourage and empower small business owners to take their business online and leverage digital transformation to grow” and “demonstrate the gritty and uncontrollable things that make the real world a challenge for business”.
“While creating the advertisements, we had no intention to upset, insult or disturb any viewer or group of people.”
Relating to Section 2.6 of the code, the Ad Standards Community Panel found that the ad did not depict or encourage drinking to excess, but did contain “illegal and unhygienic” behaviour, noting that “public urination is an offence in all states and territories of Australia”.
As a result, the panel considered that Crazy Domains had breached the code because it contained material “contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety”.
The panel determined that the advertisement did not breach Section 2.1 of the Code, which relates to discrimination or vilification of a person or section of the community.
It also determined the advertisement did not breach Section 2.4 which relates to nudity, because it only suggested nudity and did not show it.
In its response to the determination, Crazy Domains said the campaign is no longer running on TV and other channels, however Mumbrella notes the spot in question is still on the company’s YouTube channel at the time of publishing.
The advertiser said it would “take AdStandards’ recommendations and consumer feedback into consideration” for future campaigns, but doubled down on its previous response saying the campaign was aimed to empower small business owners.
“The ads demonstrate the gritty and uncontrollable things that make the real world a challenge for business. We had no intention to upset, insult or disturb any viewer or group of people,” Crazy Domains said.