Multiple complaints about a Get It On! safe sex ad have been dismissed by the Advertising Standards Authority, which points out that simply showing two gay men in an ad is not offensive.
The ad is part of the Love Your Condom campaign and shows two men sitting next to each other on a couch ‘in a way that expressed their affection for each other’. One of the men is holding a condom and the text reads: “LOVE YOUR CONDOM, JOIN IN AT GET IT ON. CO.NZ”
Complainant J. Wadham, said: “I believe this advertisement does more than encourage condom use. It is encouraging promiscuous group sex (!!).. There are ways and means of promoting safe sex, but with the display of the provocative scene such as this on open display in a public place, with the text ‘join in’, in a street that I have to drive my children down every day, appears to disregard many New Zealanders expectations of a family friendly city environment.”
Others complained that ‘the depiction of a homosexual couple was inappropriate as heterosexual couples also use condoms’, while another objected to the sexual nature of the advertisement in a public place where children were present.
The Chair of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board pointed out the ad was for the L.Y.C campaign which advocated and promoted safe sex, and specifically the importance of using condoms for men. In the decision she says focusing on one group of condom users by showing two men in the advertisement did not preclude any other group.
“Turning to the Complainants’ concerns that the advertisement showing homosexual men was offensive, she said that this was not grounds for a complaint in itself. Further she said that the text ‘join in’ referred to joining the campaign for safe sex, not to engage in promiscuity.”
The Chair says the way the men were depicted was not salacious or explicit in any way, and that did not reach the threshold to be likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards.
“Furthermore, the Chairman was of the view that the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society, and did not meet the threshold to be in breach of the Advertising Codes.”
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Get It On! are satisfied with this summary of the decision and don’t wish to comment further.