Cheeky Cell C advert crass, but not offensive: ASA

Cell C recently launched an advertisement which features a dog ‘humping’ a man’s leg every time he is taken advantage of.

Following its release, it attracted a massive number of complaints at the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA).

The ASA said some of the complaints argued that the commercial was offensive due to its sexual content.

Complainants said a dog performing a sexual act is unsuitable for children to be exposed to, while others raised concerns about possible animal cruelty.

Advertising agency FCB Joburg responded on behalf of Cell C, arguing that children would not be able to understand the link between the dog’s behaviour and a person being “taken advantage of”.

It added that Cell C always intended for the ad to be flighted after 20:30, but a “sports package” it bought resulted in unintentional audience spillover.

Offending against “good taste and decency”

The ASA said that although some people might find the commercial crass, it is satisfied that the obvious metaphor would not be lost on the average consumer.

It found that the ad was not in contravention of the offence clause in the advertising code.

On the issue of the commercial being inappropriate for children, the ASA accepted Cell C’s undertaking to only flight the ad after the so-called “watershed period” – between 20:00 and 05:00 on subscription TV services, and 21:00 and 05:00 on free-to-air TV.

Animal cruelty

Regarding the claims of animal cruelty, Cell C submitted a film welfare compliance certificate which said that shooting of the commercial was done under inspection of an animal welfare inspector.

It went on to assure that a real dog wasn’t used to perform the “humping”.

The ASA subsequently dismissed all complaints, and reminded Cell C to only air the ad during the watershed period.

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Cheeky Cell C advert crass, but not offensive: ASA