Wednesday, October 03, 2007

ASA decision: Hell Pizza is socially reponsible

In July a number of people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because of a magazine delivered with ordered Hell pizzas. The Hell-o magazine containing adult content was also at Hell stores and a lot of people complained because of a campaign by lobby group Family First, some on dubious grounds such as the magazine was delivered in letterboxes (it wasnt, and neither did Family First say so). But, apparently, nobody complained that the content of the magazine used sexual appeal to draw attention to an unrelated product, which is a breach of advertising standards, so the ASA didn`t comment on that either.

The complaints were not upheld. The magazine was deemed not to have breached the code of advertising to children - in fact the code was deemed not to have applied as the magazine was not advertised to children even though children may see the magazine. Fair enough. It was deemed not to have breached the code of ethics as it was not deemed under Rule 5 of the code to have caused "serious or widespread offence taking into account the content, medium and product". Now if the magazine was delivered to letterboxes Rule 5 would have been breached.

It was also deemed, under Basic Principle 4 of the code to have been prepared with a 'due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society'. Although kids can view the magazine if left on the coffee table or while collecting pizzas at the door for parents, the ASA considered the delivery of a glossy mag such as Hell-o was socially responsible because their parents had a choce to engage with the advertising and promotion by buying the pizzas. In other words, the ASA thinks that if you want to order pizza and if you dont like the advertising that comes with it, don't buy the pizza and tell Hell to go to hell. If the recipient refused to pay due to associated promotion, all hell would break loose, so to speak and it would be Hell Pizza who would be doing the complaining.

I assume, then that if anyone delivered magazines containing anything with R-rated material - such as sex aids, videos, or gay escort services or material - with ordered unrelated product such as Amway goods, tupperware or pizzas, the ASA would think it is permissible under the code because recipients had a choice whether their kids would be exposed to it by ordering it in the first place, and such material would not cause serious or widespread offence purely because the material is being restricted to customers.

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