The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has dismissed a complaint that a 30-second Berocca TVC is sexist towards women of a certain age; The ad shows a male landscaper having to fend off the efforts of Violet a cougar housewife.
A person wrote to the ASB complaining the ad was outrageous and discriminatory. “It is bad enough that the culture is discriminatory in general to women without constantly being bombarded with desperate cougar characters in advertising. It is offensive to sexist and discriminatory to women.”
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“Older men and young men are never portrayed in advertising as being lecherous or creepy or untoward towards women yet this is a much more likely scenario in real life than desperate cougar women these men have to battle in their lives as an annoyance, as portrayed in advertising,” the complaint continued.
“As women we know we are deemed pretty worthless in the workplace and elsewhere once we hit mid 30s so why should this discriminatory portrayal of women being an effort men have to get around in their day, be another reinforcement of how women are seen in our society and how children view any woman over 35. I find it completely derogatory to women and reinforce terrible attitudes towards women which are increasing in our society, not improving.”
A representative from Bayer Australia said they were disappointed to hear that the Berocca commercial for Berocca had caused offence. “The tone-of-voice that has been established for this campaign is one of light-hearted humour, with the action based on an exaggerated view of the various, often unexpected challenges that can be faced in any given day.
“The variety of situations within the commercial and the mix of male and female roles were carefully managed. The character ‘Violet’ was not intended to be portrayed as “desperate” in any way as described by the complainant. The brief scene was intended to be a humorous situation where our landscaper wards off the flirtatious advances of the opposite sex.”
The ASB sided with Bayer Australia, saying the “Board noted the advertiser’s response that the scene with Violet was intended to be a light-hearted and humorous situation involving flirtatious advances by Violet toward the man.
“The Board noted that while the man does use the word wrangle the definition he is employing is not clear – it could be that he enjoys the interaction with Violet, or even encourages it. The Board noted that this scene featuring Violet is very brief and considered that there is no suggestion of discrimination or vilification of this particular women or women in general.”