Australian Caravan Club advert


March 2018


AAMI's Ship Creek advert upset some TV viewers

AAMI's 'Ship Creek' advert upset some TV viewers

Advertising watchdog dismisses complaints

Advert lands AAMI insurance company
in 'Ship Creek'

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

A TELEVISION advert depicting a family of caravanners stranded in 'Ship Creek' was among the most complained about last year, the advertising watchdog has revealed.

The humourous footage advertising AAMI's roadside assist programme offended scores of viewers who complained to the Australian Advertising Bureau claiming it breached the Advertiser Code of Ethics.

Although no actual swear words were used in the 29-second advert, they protested it still used "inappropriate language" and was not appropriate for children.

Community concern about advertising inferences, as well as sex and language, are highlighted in the bureau's latest list of most complained about advertisements.

"This year the ASB has met the challenge of a record number of complaints being processed in a single year, with over 6000 complaints about advertisements lodged in 2017,” ASB chief executive Fiona Jolly said.

Nearly a third of them related to advertisements in the top 10 list.

"Advertisements with language that people would not like to hear their children repeating will often receive large numbers of complaints," Ms Jolly said.

"Even more so if the advertisement depicts a child using the bad language."

Family standing by their caravan after breaking down on
a rural dirt road

The offending AAMI advert featured members of a family standing by their caravan after breaking down on a rural dirt road.

Noticing a sign saying 'Ship Creek', the father repeats the words on his mobile phone while trying to describe their location to AAMI.

In its findings, the ASB's Board noted that when his young son went to repeat his father’s words the suggestion was he was going to say 'shit creek' rather than Ship Creek.

His father stopped him which, in the board’s view, highlighted that the phrase 'shit creek' was not appropriate for children.

AMMI told the Board that while children appeared in the advert to dramatise a family whose car has broken down in a remote location, its target television audience was 25 to 54-year-olds and would only appear in programming relevant for PG rating.

"Although the use of Ship Creek may be described as a play on words, no inappropriate language is used within the ad and the pronunciation of the word in question is clearly 'ship' reinforced visually by the Ship Creek sign," it said.

"This, along with the enjoyment of the family, soften the potential for this to be taken out of context."

The Board acknowledged that some community members might find a reference to the S-word to be inappropriate, but pointed out the word was not actually used in the advertisement.

It noted the repeated use of the phrase Ship Creek and considered that while this emphasised the reference to 'shit creek' the overall tone was "light-hearted and humorous" and no strong or obscene language had been used.

The Board noted the advertisement had been rated ‘PG’ by Commercials Advice (CAD) and considered that the language used was not inappropriate for this relevant audience.

The Board considered the advertisement did not use "strong, obscene or inappropriate language" and determined the advertisement did not breach Section 2.5 of the Code.

Finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on other grounds, the Board dismissed the complaints.


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Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
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