The Lawn Solutions Australia ad for Sir Walter turf, featuring the animated sausage with a weird face has been called out for promoting bullying, with the Ad Standards Board demanding the ad be altered.
In the 60-second version of the ad, a man is having a party, but when one guest realises the grass is not in fact ‘DNA certified Sir Walter’, he throws grass at the host’s face, sprinkles it through his hair and pushes it into his mouth, before all other party guests run for their lives in fear of bad turf.
Oh, and there’s also the creepy talking sausage. You can watch it here:
The complaints made claimed the ad “promotes and encourages physical bullying and peer pressure during a familiar social activity”, and “uses aggression, personal space invasion and humiliation to make the point”, effectively implying that if you “do the ‘right’ thing then people will like you, and if you don’t then you will be socially isolated and excluded”.
“The way the product is advertised is meant to be funny but it comes across as a form of bullying. Shoving grass in someone’s mouth is not acceptable for any reason.”
Directed by Daniel Pront, and based on an original concept from incumbent production company Louder Than Words, the ad was aimed at showing the potentially catastrophic consequences of making the wrong choice.
Louder Than Words executive producer Andrew McLean said, “They had a new story to tell, so the creative had to be really different from what had been done in the past, without straying off brand.
“We started with the backyard BBQ concept, and Daniel worked with us to take it to the level we wanted it to get to. Daniel, our staff and crew really worked hard to make this commercial something special, and the end result is certainly a testament to their efforts.”
But the ASB had a different take on it, and considered that while exaggerated scenes of guests fleeing the party, the dead lawn and the talking sausage were humorous and unrealistic depictions, the scene where the man has grass pushed into his mouth and face could be viewed as a realistic act of violence.
“The Board noted that bullying type behaviour is of strong community concern and considered that the issue is being trivialised in the advertisement,” it stated.
“The Board considered that the advertisement did present violence that was not justifiable in the context of the product being advertised.”
As a result, ASB has demanded the advertisers, Lawn Solutions Australia, to modify the ad to remove the scene of grass-in-face which caused concern, before seeking approval to return to air.