Graphic Or Funny? iSelect Snake Bite Ad Reviewed By Advertising Standards

Graphic Or Funny? iSelect Snake Bite Ad Reviewed By Advertising Standards
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For the second time this month, health insurance company iSelect has been in the firing line of the Advertising Standards Board (ASB). This time for a TVC showing a snake handler having a severe reaction to a snake bite.

According to iSelect the “Snake Handler’ campaign builds on the brand’s “Always get it right” platform which celebrates the sense of confidence anybody can feel when they make the right call with the assistance of iSelect.

Check out the campaign:

Here’s a series of complaints:

  • I find it distressing that a snake biting a person is considered good advertising for TV.
  • I do not believe that being bitten by a snake is a matter that can supposedly provide some humour in an ad. Too many people in our country are bitten, and some unfortunately, die.
  • I found this graphic advertising of a violent attack by a snake on the face of the man as disgusting and totally inappropriate at 5pm in the afternoon (or at any other time!) when children could be watching.
  • I saw the advert the first time during the day and was shocked and turned away quickly. The second time it came on unexpectedly and it was on at a time when children could be watching which is doubly awful. I know it upset me and I expect it would give children nightmares. To add to my horror of this advert, the day before I saw this advert for the first time my granddaughter was almost bitten by a brown snake in her garden. This type of advert seems to be designed to shock but given in Australia being bitten by a snake is not beyond the realm of possibility, an advert with the sound of the snake biting the man and directly on the face etc. is not necessary. The advert definitely doesn’t work as an incentive to use the web site product.
  • A snake with a cobras head bites a man on the cheek that swells up instantly. It also bites him on the arm. Terrifying for me but it would scare children plus make them terrified on snakes.
  • Very graphic, disturbing to watch. The person is left to collapse without aid after a snake bites him on the face. They show his face and then body swell, it is unnecessary.
  • It is very confronting for children or adults to see a snake hanging off a person’s face and then seeing the face with holes in it and swollen and the eye drooping.

In response, iSelect representative said consumers would understand it’s a joke and far-fetched. “The snake handler does not appear to be in any form of pain when being bitten by the snake, i.e. he does he yell out in pain, nor does he indicate he is that least bit phased by the bite even as his face is comically swelling to a ridiculous size.

” We even see the snake handler continue his conversation with his colleague in a straight and deadpan manner, further highlighting the far-fetched nature of this situation. His ironic remark that you ‘never can be too careful’, along with his reference to possibly being ‘hit by a bus one day’ was written to be intentionally tongue-in-cheek, given he has just had an encounter with a dangerous animal.

“Showing a person sustaining an injury is relevant to the product and service advertised (private health insurance). In general terms, health insurance provides policyholders with cover for medical expenses incurred as a result of ill health and physical injury, including where an injury may be sustained as a result of an unforeseen incident.

“Finally, the cobra snake depicted was not real, but instead completely computer generated. To further highlight the fabricated scenario, a cobra snake was intentionally chosen as it is a species of snake not native to Australia.”

For the second time, the ASB sided with iSelect ruling that the violence depicted is not excessive and is justifiable in the context of promoting health insurance.

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