Coffee ad taken off air over child sexualisation and bullying concerns

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th January 2017

A television advertisement for coffee chain Muzz Buzz has been removed from the air after receiving complaints it portrayed bullying and for being suggestive of paedophilia.

In late 2016, Muzz Buzz aired an advertisement which saw a man purchase then pour a drink on a boy. The man then wipes some of the drink off with his finger before sucking his finger and saying “Mmm. Delicious sticky boy”. He then pats the boy on the head.

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) received a number of complaints about the ad including one which described it as “creepy and inappropriate”. Another said it “smacks of paedophilia”.

Muzz Buzz apologises

In response to the complaints, Muzz Buzz apologised for any distress the advertisement may have caused and removed it from television and online.

“The ad “sticky Boy” is part of a Muzz Buzz campaign created in the spirit of displaying weird and interesting examples of ‘taste driven silliness’, aimed at being in good-humour,” Muzz Buzz said.

Muzz Buzz further stated that it had never intended to glorify or express support for violence towards children and said concerns around the ad sexualising children “shocked us”. The company said it also never intended to sexualise children.

ASB’s ruling

The ASB decided that the ad breached Section 2.3 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics (the Code) which says an ad should not portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service being advertised. The Board said although the boy does not appear to be physically hurt when the drink is poured over his head, the boy does not appear to be happy with man’s behaviour and that his actions could be considered abusive.

The Board also determined the advertisement breached Section 2.4 of the Code which states advertisements will treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience. The Board said it agreed “there is a strong sexual context to the man’s actions”.

Finally, the Board said the ad breached Section 2.6 of the Code which stipulates ads will not depict material contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety. The Board stated that as the boy had a passive reaction to the drink being poured on him it could be interpreted that it has happened before and hence the child may be a victim of bullying. The Board said bullying a child is contrary to prevailing community standards.

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