These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Advertising Standards Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Gillette Right Guard - wrecking ball
Complaint from: 159 viewers
An advertisement for Gillette Right Guard showed an office worker running from a building that was being demolished by a wrecking ball as part of a test to see if his deodorant was effective. An American-style TV presenter standing outside the building commentated his progress.
Viewers complained that the advertisement was offensive and upsetting because the image of a man trying to escape from an office block which was being demolished, including a scene where he runs down a dust-filled stairwell, was too reminiscent of the World Trade Centre disaster. At the time of airing the second anniversary was approaching. Viewers felt therefore that the timing of the advertisement was particularly inappropriate.
The agency responded to the complaints by amending the advertisement emphasising the fact that the main character was taking part in a game, and removing the stairwell scene that some viewers found particularly redolent of the disaster. It took the advertisement off-air on 7 September intending to replace it on 22 September with a cut-down version.
The ITC accepted the agency's argument that similarities between September 11th and the imagery used in the advertisement were unintentional, but it could not ignore the fact that a significant number of viewers had made a clear link between the two.
It noted the positive steps the agency had taken to edit the advertisement to limit offence. However, further complaints continued to be received since the airing of the new version. The reaction suggested that it was the overall theme of the advertisement that was upsetting, and not just isolated scenes.
The ITC acknowledged the action taken by the agency to lessen the likelihood of further offence. But, it judged that both of the longer advertisements had caused significant offence. Neither is to be shown again. A new shorter version will air from 22 September.
Complaints upheld. Breach of ITC Code Rule 6.1.