The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has received complaints about a TVC for chocolate brand M&M’s claiming the ad is violent towards men.
This television advertisement opens on a woman asking her partner to get her a snack. The man opens a kitchen cupboard and various items fly out and hit his head. We then see that it is animated M&M’s throwing the objects. The man tells them to get in to the bowl and we hear one of the M&M’s reply, “You get in the bowl!”
A sample of the complaints included: “The ad does not meet the Code of Ethics 2.3 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers which states ‘Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not present or portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised.’
“Showing a man being repeatedly hit in the head to sell chocolates is unjustifiable violence and the ad does not meet the Code. As well, the ad would be highly unlikely to appeal to men, and the ad is more than likely targeted at women who would like to see a man being hit in the head by thrown objects.
“It is highly likely that she was aware the man was being hit in the head, and she had purposely asked him to get the chocolates from the cupboard knowing he would get hit by objects thrown at him.”
In response to the complaints, a M&M’s representative said: “The advertisement simply depicts the M&M’s characters in a fictional environment, throwing items in a light-hearted way at the man — items such as apples, bananas and magazines. The Red M&M’s character then holds up a slice of bread as if going to throw it at the male. The male in the scene does not get injured.”
The ASB dismissed the complaints saying that the man is annoyed not hurt by the M&M’s. “The Board noted that objects fly out of the cupboard and strike the man’s head but considered that his reaction is of annoyance, not of being hurt, and in the Board’s view the overall message is that M&M’s don’t want to be eaten, and not that it is acceptable to throw objects at a person. The Board considered that the advertisement did not present or portray violence and determined that the advertisement did not breach Section 2.3 of the Code.”