Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has ruled in favour of Procter & Gamble Australia (P&G), the toiletries company behind Herbal Essence, about the ‘take your hair to paradise’ advert.
The ASB received several complaints about the ad, a selection of those complaints include: “What I really find offensive and hypocritical is that the ad is set in a jungle and it is for shampoo. The shampoo industry is one of the main culprits of deforestation because they use palm oil to make shampoo.
“It is offensive to indigenous people and portrays the exact opposite of the devastation that is caused by the shampoo industry. This advertisement depicts an inaccurate portrayal of native South American people, stereotyping them and their ceremonial dress.
“It appropriates their culture by using it to sell hair products, which is exploitative. Overall, this advertisement is incredibly racist and displays an offensively Western and out-dated view of other cultures.”
In response P&G said the ad was “intended to be a light-hearted reflection of the luxurious experience of consuming the product, featuring a young woman who is treated with respect…In this way, P&G solely intends a light hearted, over-the-top portrayal of the multi-sensorial experience of using Herbal Essence products.
“As to what appears to be the main concern of the complaint, while there is a mythical tribe, there is no identification of a particular indigenous race such as native South American people, and, in any event, no negative impression is conveyed.”
In its ruling the Board noted that by “describing the rainforest as a mystical jungle the origin of the indigenous race depicted is not made explicitly clear. The Board acknowledged that the tribesmen and women could be interpreted as being South American but considered that even if they were, the way in which they are depicted is not negative or demeaning”.
“The Board noted that the manner in which the main tribesman describes the shampoo product is intended to be humorous and considered that the viewer is being invited to laugh with him, at the overall concept of the advertisement, rather than at him.”
The advertising standards board dismissed the complaints.