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.
Burger King Pepper Jack Stack
Complaint from: 83 viewers
An advertisement for Burger King showed a couple lying in bed. The woman woke and said in puzzlement "I think I've been bitten". The camera revealed that her back appeared to be covered in human bitemarks. Her partner examined the bites and looked guilty. A voiceover stated "got the urge for a big bite. Try the new Burger King Pepper Jack Stack ...got the urge, get to Burger King". A shorter version of the advertisement just showed the partner looking guiltily at the woman's back, but closed with the same ending.
Viewers complained that the advertisements condoned domestic violence against women. One of the viewers was a police officer who said biting was a common feature of domestic violence. And another viewer had been the victim of such an assault.
The ITC sympathised with viewers who had personal experience of domestic violence, but did not agree that the advertisement depicted a violent relationship. The couple were shown waking up suggesting that the man had bitten the woman unconsciously in his sleep. The voiceover explained the motive behind his actions - he was hungry and had the "urge" for a burger. He did not bite the woman intentionally as an act of violence, and she did not look upset, scared or threatened by him. Her only response to the bites seemed to be confusion over how they got there.
The shorter version also clearly linked the bites with burgers, and did not suggest that they were the result of violent abuse.
The ITC did not consider that the majority of viewers would interpret the advertisement as a portrayal of domestic violence, and it did not agree that the image of bitemarks in the context of this advertisement condoned biting as a form of domestic abuse. It therefore judged that both advertisements were acceptable.
Complaints not upheld.