Consistently dismissed complaints are complaints which raise issues under the Code of Ethics but are considered not suitable for submission to the Ad Standards Community Panel on the basis that the Community Panel has consistently considered such complaints to be not in breach of the Codes. Consistently dismissed issues fall into a number of categories:

Unlikely interpretation

Where the concern raised about the advertisement involves an interpretation of or concern about the advertisement that, while open to interpretation, is unlikely to be seen by reasonable members of the community or is a matter that is particular to the complainant and, although offensive to the complainant, is not likely to be anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards was likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product.

Examples include:

  • A complaint that the advertisement is insensitive to a personal attribute or personal experience of the complainant. For example in 123/08 (RTA) the use of a pinkie finger to represent that someone speeding is ‘less of a man’ may be seen by the complainant as insensitive, but the Community Panel has consistently decided that this is not an interpretation that would be shared by reasonable members of the community.
  • A complaint that an advertisement has a sexual connotation that no reasonable member of the community would perceive. For example in 76/09 (Drumstick) the depiction of a boy biting the bottom of an ice-cream cone was seen by the Community Panel as unlikely to be viewed as sexually suggestive by reasonable members of the community. And in 493/09 (Big M) the Community Panel considered that reasonable members of the community would find no sexual connotations in the positions of the milk cartons shown in the ad.

Matter previously considered

Complaints that are considered to be “identical” will be treated as a “Consistently Dismissed Complaint”.

An advertisement will be considered “identical” if the same advertisement has been previously considered by the Community Panel in a different media and the nature of concern does not have a relevant audience test. 
For example:

  • A complaint about an advertisement that is broadcast on television and then at the cinema (and the issue of concern is not one where the people likely to see/hear the advertisement is relevant to the complaint), will not be considered as a separate case although the form of broadcast or publication is different.

An advertisement will not be considered to be “identical” if the advertisement is shown in a different media and the nature of concern of the complainant is a matter that has a ‘”relevant audience” test (such as sex, language or advertising to children). 
For example:

  • A complaint about an advertisement that is broadcast on television then at the cinema (and the issue of concern is sex, language, identifiable advertising or advertising to children), will be considered as a separate case. This is because the form of broadcast or publication is different and therefore the relevant audience viewing the advertisement is different, and this may affect the decision of the Community Panel.

Not of concern to broad community

Where the concern raised about the advertisement involves a depiction of behaviour, an activity or treatment of people, animals or objects that reasonable members of the community would be unlikely to be similarly concerned about.

Examples include:

  • A complaint that an animal is depicted in a manner that is cruel, when the animal is depicted in the advertisement in a manner that is considered acceptable in Australian society. For example and ad which depicts a bird in a cage or a dog on a leash.
  • A suggestion that the depiction of a woman having lunch with three men is a suggestion of group sex (Suzuki 340/09).
  • A suggestion that a depiction of a group of people in a normal social situation / having fun is discriminatory to racial groups not represented in the group (Coca Cola beach bubbles 1/08).

Consistently dismissed issue

Where the concern raised about the advertisement involves an issue that the Community Panel has consistently considered to be not in breach of the Code.

Examples include:

  • References to secular practices around Christmas time or other religious occasions and use of Christmas carols or hymns in advertisements, where the use is not discriminatory.

Consistently dismissed language

A complaint that the advertisement contains offensive language, where the language complained about is a phrase or word that the Community Panel has consistently deemed to be not in breach of the Code

Examples include:

  • Australian Colloquialisms (bloody, bugger etc) used in a manner that is consistent with generally accepted usage and not used in an aggressive, threatening or demeaning manner. For example the use of the word ‘rooted’ in the 2009 Sam Kekovich ad for Australia Day (27/09), the use of the words ‘bloody’ and 'friggen' in a radio ad for Sidchrome tools (303/09) and the use of the word ‘hell’ in a Lynx ad (542/09).
  • Where another word is used in the place of an expletive, for example an ad which used the term ‘hardened the FUIC up’, where FUIC is defined as Farmers Union Iced Coffee (499/09).

Incorrect about content

Where there is a concern raised that an advertisement contains expletives or has inappropriate content which, when the advertisement is viewed, makes it clear that the expletive is not said or that the suggested content is not part of the advertisement.

This can also include the situation where an expletive is not used but there is a mild suggestion of the expletive and the context or media placement would not make the advertisement unsuitable.

Examples include:

  • Where a complaint is about an expletive that has been misheard, and doesn’t appear in an ad. For example a Carpet Court ad where the word ‘shipload’ had been misheard as ‘shitload’ (244/05), and in an ad for Kellogg’s Nutrigrain bars where ‘a layer of chock’ was misheard by a complainant as ‘a layer of cock’ (315/06).
  • Where the complaint is about a feature of an advertisement which is clearly different to the complaint. For example in an ad for Yahoo!7 the complaint was about a woman appearing with no swimsuit, however when the ad was viewed it was clear the woman pictured was wearing a swimsuit (567/09).

Product name

Where a complaint is about a product name, where the product name is not depicted with other material that might make the advertisement overall offensive.

Examples include:

  • The brand FCUK (French Connection United Kingdom) has received complaints about the use of their name on advertising material, however where the rest of the advertising material is in line with the Codes the Community Panel has made the decision that the use of the brand name is not inappropriate (53/09 and 172/98).
  • The brand MUK received complaints about a series of advertisements featuring their name. The Community Panel found that two advertisements that only featured text - “What the MUK” and “What the F*#k is MUK” - were fine, but one that had the text “Wanna MUK” alongside a picture of a man wearing only a towel was crossing the line (404/09).

Multicultural communities

A complaint about an advertisement that includes or contains depictions of the Australian multicultural community, where those depictions are not discriminatory or negative.

Examples include:

  • In an advertisement for La Famiglia an old Italian woman is depicted as spying on a family from a variety of positions, including in a dog house. Complainants believed this to be demeaning to Italians, however the Community Panel found that the woman was depicted in a humorous, not demeaning, way (421/09).
  • In an advertisement for Leggo’s a complainant objected to an Australian woman using an Italian accent and Italian phrases when talking about pasta. The Community Panel found that this did not constitute discrimination (296/01).

Images of food

Where a truth and accuracy complaint relates to images of food products in an advertisement i.e. that the food appears more palatable, attractive or generous than the complainant believes it to be in reality. The Community Panel believes that the community generally accepts that advertisers will attempt to portray their product in as desirable a manner as possible within the normal constraints of truth and accuracy. 

Examples include:

  • A complaint about the size or quantity of food displayed in the advertisement being less than what the complainant believes is available to purchase. For example, in an ad for a microwave meal, the Community Panel found there was some degree of difference allowed in the presentation of the meal on the ad and the meal available for purchase (0124/11). Likewise the Community Panel found that a complaint about a Hungry Jacks wrap being bigger in an advertisement than in reality was not in breach of the codes (0200/11).

Stereotypical depiction

Where the concern raised about the advertisement involves a stereotypical depiction that the Community Panel has consistently considered to not be a breach of Section 2.1 of the Code.

Examples include:

  • Where a woman is shown completing household chores, where this depiction is not negative or demeaning. For example an ad for Coles where a woman talks about washing her husband’s shirts (0520/14) and in an ad for Mr Muscle which shows a mother cleaning (0495/14).
  • Ads which show children playing with gender specific toys. For example in an ad for Huggies nappies, boys and girls are shown participating in different activities, the Community Panel found that there was no suggestion that anything is wrong with the stereotypical activities, and there is no suggestion that the activities of the children are limited to what is shown on screen (0266/10).
  • Ads for domestic violence which show women as the victims. For example an ad for White Ribbon received complaints that the advertisement, which detailed the number of attacks against women, suggested that only men perpetrate domestic violence (0302/13). The Community Panel found that it was not discriminatory towards men for an ad to focus on statistics relating to violence against women.