Monday, 28 June 2010

Monkey Business

Last week the ASA Directorate dismissed a consumer complaint by what appears to be an animal rights group against Europcar South Africa. The television advert portrays a chimpanzee playing and successfully completing a computer game at what seems to be a laboratory. A man enters and asks the chimpanzee if he will be learning anything that day and is ignored. The chimpanzee makes a hand gesture implying that he considers the man to be a loser.

The complaint was submitted that the advertisement is offensive, irresponsible and an abuse of animal rights. The complainants asserted that the animal was grinning as it was in distress.

In response to the complaint, the advertiser stated that all necessary measures were taken to ensure that the advertisement would not be seen to condone irresponsible behaviour to animals and submitted a film-shoot report from the Animal Anti-Cruelty League stating that the filming was closely supervised by the chimp’s wrangler and the League and that it was satisfied with the overall treatment of the animal both on and off set.

The Directorate considered whether the animal was harmed during the making of the commercial and was satisfied by the report of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League that it was not.

It then considered whether the advertisement condones cruel or irresponsible behaviour towards animals, viewed from the perspective of the hypothetical reasonable person. It determined that a reasonable person would see that the chimpanzee is portrayed as scornful of the man’s ignorance and is mocking him. It is not featured as abused or deprived and the Directorate found nothing in the advertisement that could be perceived as being the result of cruelty to the chimpanzee or that a reasonable person would be encouraged to inflict harm on animals as a result of the advertisement.

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