Ashley Madison, an online dating portal targeting people looking for extramarital affairs, has said it will modify an ad after the ad watchdog ruled it was too violent.
The ad features a “zombie” woman going about her day-to-day life, including a shot of the woman seated on a lounge next to her sleeping partner. She holds a baseball bat and looks menacingly at her partner. An Ashley Madison ad distracts her from any intention of harm, before transforming the zombie back to perfect health. It ends with the tagline “AshleyMadison.com. Bringing your marriage back to life”.
Courtesy of Savvy Media Monitoring
Complaints against the ad argue there is “no need to encourage” behaviour such as having an affair.
“Apart from the zombie look being a little gruesome, it depicts marriages as dead and just going through the motions. It depicts to act out physically/emotionally with someone other than your partner. Its motto, as written at end of ad, life is too short. Have an affair. As humans (we are not the living dead) we need to be heard and listened to, in all aspects of life and communicate to achieve these successful relationships. When affected, families, friends, children are (indirectly) caught up in it. Prescription to violence is what this country is fighting against,” a complainant said.
Ashley Madison defended the ad, arguing as the board has previously said it “does not adjudicate the morality of the legal Ashley Madison service” the complaint should be dismissed.
The Ad Standards Board ruled the ad did treat the issue of sex and sexuality with sensitivity however ruled it used violence in a way which was not justifiable for the service advertised.
The board focused in on the scene of the woman holding a baseball bate which was considered by the board to be menacing and suggestive of a violent act.
While the board noted the man and woman were portrayed as zombies as a metaphor for being dissatisfied in marriage, it was the board’s view the threat of violence towards a partner is not acceptable.
The complaint was upheld.
In response to the ruling Ashley Madison said: “We are very pleased that the Board affirmed our position that there is no restriction on Ashley Madison’s service being available or being promoted in Australia. Moreover, we are pleased that the Board determined that the Zombie commercial in question is in compliance with the Advertising Code as it relates to its treatment of sex and sexuality with sensitivity to the relevant audience.
“Finally, in accordance with the Board’s Determination, we have modified the commercial by removing the scene of the woman holding the baseball bat. While this scene is a play off of the entire “Zombie” theme of the commercial, and by no means meant to be suggestive of violence, we are sensitive to the concerns. In this regard, since the Board affirmed that the remainder of the commercial is in compliance with the Code, we look forward to running the updated Zombie advertisement in a seamless manner.”
For Ashley Madison the ruling follows on from the ASB banning a TV ad for degrading wives by suggesting they are inadequate.
Last year, complaints against an Ashley Madison ad generated topped 300 complaints, one of the most complained ads of the year.