Putting abusers in place


The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Bren­dan Seery

Reg­u­la­tory board ban Amarok ra­dio advert on strength of sin­gle com­plaint.

It is easy to de­spair about ever be­ing able to re­duce gen­der-based vi­o­lence in South Africa, which is one of the scars on the face of what could be a beau­ti­ful coun­try.

So much has been said, writ­ten and demon­strated through videos, doc­u­men­taries and even ac­ti­va­tions … but the prob­lem still seems as vast as ever.

Does that mean we shouldn’t bother try­ing to get the mes­sage out? No.

That’s the idea be­hind a new campaign by 1st for Women in­sur­ance, ty­ing in with the 16 days of ac­tivism against gen­der-based vi­o­lence, which ends on Tues­day next week. I gave Or­chids last week to the “Repub­lic of Sex­ual Abuse” campaign con­cep­tu­alised by Black River FC ad agency – and I make no apolo­gies for do­ing the same for the 1st for Women’s campaign.

Both ideas are worlds apart – but both suc­ceed in con­vey­ing the stark re­al­ity of abuse of women and chil­dren.

The 1st for Women idea – con­ceived by ad agency Fox P2 – rolls out in a num­ber of ex­e­cu­tions which are images of var­i­ous abused women and chil­dren pro­jected on to the ac­tual places where the crimes against them were com­mit­ted.

This is, ac­cord­ing to the 1st For Women con­cept, ef­fec­tively shin­ing a light on to those dark­est places of abuse … where the events ac­tu­ally hap­pen.

The first pro­jec­tion was filmed in Faerie Glen, Pre­to­ria. It pays tribute to Chanelle Hen­ning, a young mother who was mur­dered in Novem­ber 2011. Other pro­jec­tions pay tribute to vic­tims in­clud­ing Hannah Cor­nelius who was raped and mur­dered near Stel­len­bosch, Clarissa Lin­door who was mur­dered in Stel­len­bosch, Court­ney Pi­eters who was raped and mur­dered – her body was found in Ep­ping In­dus­tria, Cape Town – and Janika Mello who was raped and mur­dered in Heinz Park, Cape Town.

On Tues­day, the last of the “ac­tivism” days na­tion­ally, a full video of all the pro­jec­tions will be put on to the side of a ma­jor land­mark in Johannesbu­rg, the com­pany says.

The campaign de­serves an Orchid for us­ing the power of the brand to ad­vo­cate for its cus­tomers … and in so do­ing, put some­thing back into that long strug­gle for them to be truly free.

Since 2005, the 1st for Women Foun­da­tion has contribute­d over R70 mil­lion to var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions that fo­cus on fight­ing women abuse. Over this pe­riod, 90 000 vic­tims and sur­vivors of abuse have been as­sisted by the foun­da­tion. So it’s more than just words and images.

In­ter­est­ingly, I thought about 1st for Women and their cheeky cam­paigns of a few years ago when they had a go at men for be­ing bad in­sur­ance risks. What made them funny – for me any­way, al­though my brother-in-law wanted to re­port them to the then Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity – was that they were built around a cliché or stereo­type which was it­self grounded in truth. Men are gen­er­ally way more reck­less in ev­ery­thing they do, than women are.

How­ever, the new ad­ver­tis­ing watch­dog body, the Ad­ver­tis­ing Reg­u­la­tory Board (ARB), has just done some weapons-grade “virtue sig­nalling” by ban­ning a ra­dio ad for Volk­swa­gen’s Amarok bakkie, be­cause it was deemed to be sex­ist and that the “con­stant en­trench­ment of gen­der stereo­types has no place in an open and demo­cratic South African so­ci­ety, based on hu­man dig­nity, equal­ity and free­dom”.

This was the ad, which is set in a shop­ping mall as a man waits for his fe­male part­ner:

“It’s dusk and you’re in un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, sur­rounded by preda­tors hunt­ing for fresh prey. And they found it. 50% off all shoes. They at­tack, lung­ing mer­ci­lessly. As you guard the 12 shop­ping bags, seated on a bench along­side the other men, you watch the feed­ing frenzy take place. This is Shoe Sale Coun­try and you don’t be­long here, man. This is not your habi­tat, so go where you be­long in the V6 Amarok.

Visit your Volk­swa­gen deal­er­ship for great Amarok V6 of­fers to­day, man.”

One com­plaint – truly – was enough to send the ARB into a holier-than-thou frenzy … pretty much as it did ear­lier this year when it banned the “Big John” ad for Chicken Licken (also af­ter a soli­tary com­plaint).

In this sort of at­mos­phere, I guar­an­tee no more 1st For Women ads tak­ing the mickey out of men will ever be con­tem­plated, never mind flighted, be­cause of the chill­ing hand of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

What is most dis­turb­ing about this is that the ARB took “guid­ance” from a sim­i­lar de­ci­sion from the ad reg­u­la­tory author­ity in the UK … a coun­try which reg­u­larly pa­trols the bor­ders of lu­di­crous­ness with its silly re­straints on health, safety and its com­mit­ments to po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

That sort of reg­u­la­tion is why much of the ad­ver­tis­ing in the UK has lost its edge. Edgy will get you into trou­ble with the thought po­lice.

I am not say­ing I would have given the Amarok ad an Orchid, but I would like to know that there is space in our ad in­dus­try for that – and for ones where males can also be made fun of.

But I sup­pose I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Campaign de­serves an Orchid for us­ing power of the brand

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