Complaints of sexual harassment over a scene in a 30 second TVC for Bushells Tea “A Great Taste Of Home” have been dismissed by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).
Some of the complaints against the pinching ‘buttgate’ include:
- All we know is a woman made a cup of tea and a man patted her on the backside to say thankyou. This is sexual harassment. It has no place in advertising in this day and age.
- Male pinching female on bottom – cause she made him a cup of tea!! Are you for real!! What a great sign of appreciation. Not impressed.
- The male in the advertisement pinches/touches the female’s buttocks as a voiceover mentions something along the lines of “a little thank you goes a long way”. I think this is an inappropriate way to show gratitude.
- There is no further context as to the relationship between the pair. The gesture shown is not an appropriate way to say ‘thank you’ and is in fact sexual harassment.
- The inference in this ad that a pinch on the bottom is a way of saying thanks is sexual discrimination.
Here is the offending 30 second ad:
In response to the complaints, Bushells Tea defended the scene saying it was obvious to viewers that the man and woman are a couple. “She looks fondly at him as he takes his tea and gives her a friendly pinch on her bottom. This scene takes place in a home setting between two people who are enjoying each other’s company.
“We submit that viewers will not perceive that the Advertisement, including the scene where the man touches the bottom of his partner, as discriminating on the grounds of gender, particularly as it is obviously a playful gesture as part of a loving moment between two people in a close relationship.
“Showing a man playfully touching the bottom of his partner has no sexual or degrading connotations.”
The ASB ruled in Bushells favour saying that even though a “pinch on the bottom in the workplace is sexual harassment and acknowledged that this is a serious social issue. However the Board considered that this advertisement is not condoning inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.
“The Board considered that the couple depicted are not strangers and are presented in a very obvious domestic situation. The Board considered the familiar interaction between the couple, the gesture of the pinching, and the woman’s response.
“Based on all of these factors, the Board considered that the advertisement did not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of gender.”