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Māori health advocates say ASA lacks cultural awareness

The Advertising Standards Authority recently decided not to uphold a complaint from public health collective Healthy Auckland Together (HAT) about advertising junk food to children. The complaint was targeted at a YouTube advertisement for Kinder Surprise.

HAT considered the Kinder Surprise advertisement a breach of The Children and Young People’s Code as it is a chocolate bar for children, advertised by child actors and seen by children.

The response by the ASA complaints board included these comments relating to the advertisement being run adjacent to the video clip of ‘Aotearoa’, a reo Māori pop song performed by Māori artists Stan Walker, Ria Hall, Maisey Rika and Troy Kingi. The song was launched during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori in 2014 and has been viewed 4.6 million times:

‘The Complaints Board noted the advertisement before it played during a Stan Walker video of his song Aotearoa. The song is performed in the Māori language. The Complaints Board said this content was not likely to have a significant appeal to children'

It goes on to state:

‘The Complaints Board considered the placement of the advertisement and whether young people were a significant proportion of the average audience. The Complaints Board noted that the Stan Walker video was likely to have some appeal to young people, specifically those with an interest in Maori language, but it was unlikely to be viewed as widely as an English language music video. However, the advertisement’s product and presentation had little appeal to young people’

"I guess this illustrates what happens when you don’t have enough people with whānau Māori in their lives sitting around the decision-making table," says Janell Dymus-Kurei, General Manager Māori Public Health for Hāpai. "It's an enormously popular song with tamariki Māori - you’d be hard pressed to find a kura kaupapa or kohanga kid who doesn’t know all the words. I guess the complaints board don’t spend enough time with our communities to know that."

Hāpai Te Hauora Chief Operations Manager, Selah Hart explains why - even though this decision might seem inconsequential to some - this is indicative of a broader issue for Māori public health advocates. "This reflects what we see time and time again in our work to create healthier environments - physical and digital - for our children. We are trying to influence structures which are not grounded in Te Ao Māori and have no idea what’s going on in our communities."

Hart continues "This sort of thing exists in most entities in Aotearoa which influence the food environment. This is what contributes to tamariki Māori being more exposed to unhealthy environments, with higher risk factors for preventable illnesses than other children. None of this happens by accident. It’s a lack of cultural awareness in both a structural and philosophical sense. We constantly have to explain ourselves and provide context to our children’s lives against a predominantly non-Māori norm."

The full decision will soon be publicly available on the ASA website: http://www.asa.co.nz/decisions/


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