Issues highlighted in cases relating to Section 2.6 of the Code that have been considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel include:

Depiction of drugs, smoking, drinking and gambling

There has been increasing concern reflected in complaints about addictive activities being promoted through advertising; particularly the promotion of alcohol, gambling, smoking or drugs.

Drugs

Drug use and depictions which suggest drug use are viewed negatively by the Community Panel. Comparisons to drug and medication use, along with awareness raising about the harms of drugs are viewed more leniently. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which uses the name of a well know brand, where the name is also related to a drug, will not in itself breach of community standards of health and safety.
  • The depiction of a hemp leaf in an advertisement for shower products is not drug paraphernalia.

Smoking

The Community Panel also takes a dim view of glamourised smoking imagery in advertisements. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows cigarettes or smoking paraphernalia in a positive light will be seen to glamourise smoking and breach Section 2.6 of the Code.

The Community Panel has also dismissed complaints in this area. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which showed the negative effects of smoking, and images of people or objects smoking, does not depict material contrary to prevailing community standards on smoking.

Alcohol

All advertisements concerning alcohol are referred to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) committee and are also considered by the Community Panel if Code of Ethics issues are raised.

Concerns raised about situations or suggestions encouraging the excess or unsafe consumption of alcohol are considered by the Community Panel under Section 2.6. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising for non-alcohol products can still breach the Code if they are seen to encourage or condone unsafe consumption of alcohol, or the consumption of alcohol in a situation which would not be considered appropriate under community standards.

The Community Panel also dismissed a number of complaints about advertisements in this area. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which depicts passengers on a boat drinking alcohol, in moderation, will not breach this section of the Code.
  • Advertising which depicting people drinking, in moderation, in the vicinity of a pool will not breach the Code as long as there is no consumption of alcohol in or close to the pool.
  • Alcohol companies are legally allowed to sponsor football clubs and this does not breach the Code.
    • Carlton and United Breweries – 0371/17
  • Advertising which provides factual information on beer, does not present it as being a healthy product.
  • Advertising which promotes a hangover cure does not in itself encourage excess drinking.
  • Advertising which promotes give-aways or promotions in connection with purchasing alcoholic beverages is not an encouragement for people to drink excessively.
    • Doll House Gentleman’s Club – 0180/16
  • Advertising for alcohol venues or retailers which does not depict alcohol or condone or encourage excess consumption of alcohol will generally not be seen to breach Section 2.6 of the Code.
  • While there are significant community concerns regarding the anti-social and violent effects of alcohol, in the context of a product which is legally allowed to be consumed, advertising which suggests that you should drink responsibly does not depict material contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.

Gambling

The Community Panel considers the genuine community concern regarding excessive gambling and notes the problems associated with gambling for certain members of society.

Further information about gambling can be found on the gambling and wagering issues pages.

The Community Panel’s view is:

  • While there is significant community concern regarding the negative consequences of irresponsible gambling, the depiction of the use of a betting app is not advertising a gambling product in a manner condoning or encouraging excessive gambling.
  • The promotion of wagering products is legal, and as such it is reasonable for an advertiser to promote their products, if they are not encouraging an excessive or unhealthy level of gambling.
  • Advertisements for gambling may include some elements which are attractive to children, if the main topic and tone of the advertisement is directed to adults.

Bullying (non-violent)

Behaviour which may be considered to be bullying is considered by the Community Panel under Section 2.6 for non-violent bullying or Section 2.3 for violent acts.

The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which depicts people interacting with each other in a friendly and joking way will not be seen as bullying where there is no negative reaction from any of the people.
  • While workplace bullying is a serious issue, advertising which suggests someone may not like someone they work with, but does not show any negative interactions between the two people, does not amount to workplace bullying.
  • While sexual harassment is a serious issue, advertising which shows mildly sexual actions in a workplace is not seen to amount to sexual harassment when the actions are not directed at any one person, the actions are comedic and there is no suggestion anyone feels harassed or upset by the actions.

Unsafe driving

Complaints about motor vehicle advertisements are considered under the FCAI code, but advertisements which are not for cars but include driving scenes may be considered under Section 2.6 for health and safety concerns.

The Community Panel has upheld a number of advertisements for promoting unsafe driving practices. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows unsafe driving will breach Section 2.6 of the Code.

The Community Panel also dismissed a number of complaints in relation to this section of the Code. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • While seatbelt safety is an important issue, advertising does not need to show people wearing seatbelts if they are in a parked car, if there is no suggestion they have or will drive without using seatbelts.
  • Showing drivers eating or drinking, dancing or only having one hand on the steering wheel while still driving safely does not depict driving behaviour which is contrary to prevailing community standards.
  • Depictions of animated vehicles racing in advertisements for video games will not be seen to encourage unsafe driving on actual roads.
  • Depicting a person driving a car while engaged in unsafe behaviour will not be considered a breach of the Code, if the negative consequences of this action are also depicted in the advertisement.

Unsafe behaviour

The Community Panel has considered a number of complaints concerning unsafe behaviour in advertisements and found that they breached the Code. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows a product being used incorrectly in a manner which could result in injury may breach this section of the Code.
  • Advertising which shows unsafe actions around water are seen to be a depiction of unsafe behaviour and may breach the Code.

The Community Panel considered a number of advertisements which raised issues of unsafe behaviour to not breach the Code, determining that the behaviours shown were in line with community standards. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which uses a gym scenario in a humourous and exaggerated manner where no-one is seen to be injured by the incident, will not breach Section 2.6 of the Code.
  • Advertising which raises safety concerns about behaviours which are unlikely to be copied by children and are in line with prevailing community standards of health and safety will generally not be seen to be a breach of Section 2.6.
  • Advertising which is consistent with safe working practices will not breach Section 2.6 of the Code.

Fantastical elements

When considering advertisements under Section 2.6, the Community Panel can dismiss health and safety concerns if the imagery has elements of fantasy and are obviously unlikely or fictitious. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows characters doing stunts which would not be able to be performed by a child as they involve vehicles or equipment not easily or readily available to a child are unlikely to encourage copy-cat behaviour.
  • Advertising which is obviously fantastical and unlikely to be taken seriously by most members of the community will not be seen as a breach of Section 2.6.

Safety in the home

The Community Panel has upheld a number of advertisements for showing unsafe behaviour in the home. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertisements which undermine the important issue of fire safety will be upheld, even where the scenarios in the advertisements are humorous and unlikely.
  • Showing children in potentially unsafe situations in the home, which may be copied by other children or parents and result in injury, will breach the Code.
  • The issue of electrical safety is something that is taken very seriously and advertisements which show unsafe practices with electricity will be found to breach Section 2.6 of the Code.
    • Liquor Alliance – 0005/15
    • Australian Insurance Holdings – 0104/15
  • Messages which trivialise important safety warnings should not be included in an advertisement likely to be seen by children.
  • Advertisements which show people inside fridges or containers that can be locked from the outside will breach section 2.6 of the Code as they are unsafe actions which may be copied by children.
    • Betta Electrical Kingaroy – 0280/18

The Community Panel also considered a number of complaints in this area to not breach Section 2.6 of the Code. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows a potentially unsafe setup for a cot or nursery may not breach this section of the Code if the unsafe setup is shown only briefly and is not the focus of the advertisement.
  • While there is genuine community concern relating to child safety, particularly newborn and young babies in cots, showing toddlers in situations that would be potentially unsafe for younger babies might not be in breach of Section 2.6 of the Code.
  • Advertising which shows babies being appropriately supervised while in situations that may otherwise be unsafe not breach prevailing community standards on health and safety.
  • Showing children in the same scene as a power tool which is being used, is not a breach of Section 2.6 of the Code if the safety of the child is not in doubt.

Protective gear

Advertising which shows people engaging in activities which require safety equipment, must show people using that safety equipment. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows people on a moving motorcycle, without helmets, will breach this section of the Code, regardless of the laws of the country where the advertisement was set.
  • Bicycle helmets are a safety requirement and as such advertising showing people riding bicycles in public without helmets will breach Section 2.6.
    • Fernwood Fitness Centres Aust – 0011/15

The Community Panel often receives complaints about some activities where safety equipment or practices are advised, but not required. In these cases the Community Panel will often dismiss the complaints as the activities shown are not contrary to prevailing community standards. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which features people on boats or watercraft will often receive complaints if they are not clearly wearing life jackets, however if the craft is stationary or close to shore or the occupants are wearing other inflatable safety devices the advertising will not breach this section of the Code.
  • While there is a general consensus in the community that wearing appropriate safety gear including helmets is preferable when using a skateboard, there are no rules regarding the use of helmets except in South Australia. Given the lack of rules regarding the use of helmets while skateboarding the Community Panel is of the view that advertising which depicts a skateboard being used in a controlled manner does not encourage or condone unsafe behaviour.
  • When an unsafe behaviour is shown in an advertisement, accompanied by a disclaimer stating not to copy the behaviour, and the behaviour is not the focus of the advertisement, the advertisement will not be seen to encourage or condone unsafe behaviour.

Other health and safety issues

Section 2.6 of the Code encompasses a diverse range of issues which raise community concerns about materials contrary to prevailing standards of health and safety.

The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which shows people engaging in behaviour that would breach the law will be seen to be contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.
    • McCain Australia and New Zealand – 0139/16
  • Advertising which contravenes prevailing community standards about sun safety will be seen to be contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.
  • Advertising which references suicide without providing support services information, and in a way which trivialises or normalises the serious issue, will be seen to breach Section 2.6 of the Code.
  • There are genuine community and government concerns about sexting and cyber safety and advertising directed at young people seen to encourage this behaviour will be seen as contrary to prevailing standards of health and safety.

The Community Panel has also dismissed a number of complaints under Section 2.6 of the Code. The Community Panel’s view is:

  • Advertising which mentions suicide in an appropriate way which is unlikely to undermine the serious issue will not breach this section of the Code.
  • While some members of the community do not like to see bad manners shown in advertisements, if no-one’s health or safety is put at risk it will not be seen to breach the Code.
  • There is significant community concern about money lending services and whether advertisements for them encourage financial irresponsibility, however such services are legally allowed to be advertised and therefore advertising these services does not amount to a depiction which breaches community standards.
  • While some people do not like the services of plastic surgeons to be advertised, believing them to promote negative body images, it is a service that is legally able to be promoted.
  • While it is an unfortunate choice for advertisers to use characters that are attractive to children for a product that is not for children, when the labelling of the product indicates it is not suitable for children it does not breach current prevailing community standards on health and safety.
  • Advertising which shows someone choosing unhealthy food over exercise, is not a breach of Section 2.6 of the Code when that person is shown to usually be healthy.
  • While kissing a dog, or allowing a dog to lick your face or mouth, is not to be encouraged, it is not of itself a breach of prevailing community standards on health and safety.

See also: Health and safety