The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has dismissed complaints about a TV ad for Nestle’s Sweetened Condensed Milk which depicts a man wearing an apron in a kitchen baking.
One complainant said they found the ad “very sexist”, as it was using a man in a sexual manner to promote a product, which, had the roles been reversed, “would not be acceptable”.
Others suggested there were double standards within the advertising industry, with one saying “society seems to think it’s fine to objectify men in a sexual sense”.
The ad shows actor Nick Harrington dressed in what appears only an apron in a kitchen baking. Upon turning on the electric mixer, Harrington is splattered with condensed milk.
See the ad below.
The ad was created by Publicis Mojo and first aired the week of May 7, 2015.
As per the ASB’s report on the case, which was dismissed June 10 this year, Nestle’s response said it didn’t believe it had breached standards or ethics.
Nestle said it had wanted to take the non-traditional approach to baking and depict a male baker, and yet still have the product appeal to women.
It said it wanted to engage with its core audience – “women who bake 2-3 times a week – in a humorous and off-beat manner”.
Section 2.2 of the Code of Ethics says: “Advertising or marketing communications should not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative and degrading of any individual or group of people.” The Board found this ad did not breach this section. While noting some may find the ad exploitative, the Board’s view is that the man was “clearly empowered and is not presented in a manner which is degrading to men”.
Section 2.4 of the Code of Ethics states that an advertiser shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience. The ASB determined this ad did not breach this section of the Code.
When the ad was first released, Richenda Vermeulen, CEO and founder of digital agency ntegrity, told B&T the ad took the easy way out.
“It’s not witty or brave – it’s lazy,” she said. “Taking the easy option and resting on the laurels of outdated stereotypes to market a product. It underestimates the intellect of the consumer and what motivates them. It’s not creative and doesn’t connect with matters to parents across Australia on mothers day.
“Is this really what Nestle stands for? They now have an Carl’s Junior equivalent targeted at the female demographic.”