Advertising watchdog dives into pool boy spat
29 January 2006
A spat has erupted after a promotion for South Gin was ordered to be pulled from wholesalers by the liquor industry advertising approval group because it breached the industry’s self-imposed code of ethics.
LAPS – short for Liquor Advertising Pre-vetting System -– reckons the poster and its associated in-store promotion was sexually provocative and offensive to decency.
LAPS was established in 1992 by the Communications Agencies Association of New Zealand to pre-empt any government crackdown on liquor advertising rules.
The promotion for South Gin features a muscular ‘pool boy’ whom purchasers of the product could win to come around and clean their pool while a South Gin bartender mixed drinks for the winner and her friends.
Referring to the promotion posters and neck tag – displayed solely in liquor outlets – LAPS said the ad “leads to a course of action using material … completely at odds with the Code”.
42 Below CEO Geoff Ross is dumbfounded.
“Where’s Wayne Mapp when you need him? This is simply political correctness gone mad!
“The self-appointed busy-bodies who tell you what you can and cannot see and hear when it comes to liquor advertising surely have flipped their lids on this one.
“It seems it’s OK to show half naked females on prime time television reaching hundreds of thousands of people. But it’s not OK to show a man in a swim suit in a venue where people 18 and over are the only legal customers.”
Ross says 42 Below acknowledges LAPS has a role to ensure liquor advertising is socially responsible, not aimed at minors and does not encourage excessive consumption.
“But LAPs’ views on the South Gin Pool Boy campaign are completely out of line with ‘general prevailing community standards’. It’s a bit silly when what you can see at the beach on any weekend is deemed as being sexually inappropriate when you put it in an ad” Ross says.
Ross cites programming on state-owned television as being far more explicit and says, “If you applied the LAPS rules to normal television, then shows like ‘Desperate Housewives’ would be censored so much each episode would last about 40 seconds.”
“It seems there’s a double standard operating here. Joey from FRIENDS can walk around his apartment in his boxers drinking a beer and that’s fine. But if we show a guy in a pair of togs not drinking any alcohol at all he is considered sexually inappropriate”
The South Gin promotional material is currently being altered to conform Ross says. “We placed a rooster-shaped sticker over the lad’s so-called ‘offending parts’ saying ‘Warning, vague penis shape underneath’. Hopefully this will keep everyone happy.”