The Monkeys’ BCF ad depicts a man eating a bat sandwich, which some complainants said implied racism against Chinese people.
The official investigation by the Ad Standards Bureau cleared the ad, where the majority of the panel concluded that “showing a person eating a bat as part of a sandwich is a humorous reference to what was widely believed to be the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The majority considered that using such a reference was lighthearted and comedic, and was not discriminatory or vilifying towards Chinese people.”
This decision was made by the majority in part because the ad depicts a white man eating the bat sandwich, not a Chinese person.
A minority of the panel disagreed, and said that the ad breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ code of ethics as it incited “contempt and ridicule” towards China and Chinese people. The code bans any discrimination or vilification.
According to the panel report, this minority, “noted that there has been an increase in negative community opinion towards China since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and considered that this advertisement reinforces casual racism directed at Chinese people by implying that they are strange and that their strange habits (eating bats) caused a global pandemic.”
In their statement to the panel, BCF defended the ad as “a lighthearted scenario intended to be humorous in nature and in no way references race or ethnicity.”
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