A series of adverts – promoting STV's jobs website – have escaped censure from regulators, the Advertising Standards Authority, despite eleven complaints.
The ads – on TV, in the cinema and appearing as posters – variously featured people dressed as, for instance a chef or a nurse, performing a Maori haka-style of dance. The TV and cinema ads were accompanied with the chant, “Oh give me, oh give me a job, job”.
Among the complainants were New Zealanders who said the ads were culturally insensitive and offensive, because the haka held spiritual significance for the Maori people and was inappropriate for parody. Two who complained specifically about the TV ad believed the depiction of women was particularly offensive because, in Maori tradition, they were forbidden from performing the haka.
According to the ASA, STV reassured them there was no intention to re-create a specific tribal dance but that the steps, movements and speech were designed to convey inspirational positive energy such as those found in warrior dances like the haka. They also said they had consulted on the compaign, prior to it running, with New Zealanders, including a public service broadcaster based in New Zealand.
“They said parody was a common theme in advertising and reasoned that whilst it may touch on sensitivities, it rarely resulted in serious or widespread offence; warrior dances such as the haka had previously been parodied in cinema, sports and advertising,” added the ASA.
The ASA decided not to uphold the complaints.
Read the full adjudication, here.
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