Equal rights groups appealed against the upholding of a complaint about an anti-rape commercial.
Topic: Gender in advertising
Who: "Charlize Theron" anti-rape TV commercial/appeal against ASA decision
When: Late 1999
Where: Johannesburg, South Africa
Equal rights groups appealed against the upholding of a complaint about an anti-rape commercial. The ad refers to the high rape incidence in South Africa and says that "the rest of the men in South Africa seem to think that rape isn’t their problem", although it was difficult to say what men in South Africa were like "because there seem to be so few of them out there."
Responsible ad agency Jupiter Drawing Room defended the ad, but the ASA decided that the overall impression conveyed was that South African men were either rapists or indifferent about it. This meant the ad discriminated on the basis of gender and should be amended.
The appeal committee however analysed the words used carefully and held that the final reference to "so few" concerned males "out there" clearly negated the ASA’s conclusion that according to the ad, there were no concerned males. Even if this were not the case, the committee felt that viewers were not likely to take the "only two types of South African male" claim seriously. It upheld the appeal and gave the ad a clean bill of health.
Why this matters:
The ITC in the UK may not have conducted such a minute semi-forensic analysis of the words used, and one seriously wonders whether a similar ad would have survived the regulators here. Come October 2000, however, the incorporation into English and Welsh law of the European Convention of Human Rights (it is already there in Scotland) and its free speech provisions may see more strident messages like this escaping the censor.