A radio ad, for Brunel Supplies, featured a character who spoke with an accent when he taking a call from a customer. The ad began when the character answered the phone and said "Brunel Surprise". The character then passed the customer to a colleague and said "He very nice man". The colleague had an English accent and spoke to the customer about a new kitchen for the customer's wife. During the conversation the colleague said "Surplised" before he corrected himself and said "I mean surprised".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because they believed it featured an outdated racial stereotype.
Brunel Supplies stated that the ad was not meant to offend. Brunel Supplies considered the ad to be typical of the British sense of humour and did not believe that the character in the ad represented an outdated racial stereotype, but should have rather been considered as having been used in a modern and ironic manner.
The broadcaster (Palm FM) said that there was no intention to cause offence and the ad was meant to be tongue in cheek humour.
The ASA acknowledged that neither Brunel Supplies nor Palm FM meant to cause any offence with the ad and we also noted that the ad was intended to be an ironic use of humour. However, the humour was focused on the character's inability to pronounce certain words due to his accent. Regardless of the intention to be ironic and not offend, we considered that the humour was derived from the ethnicity of the character and we concluded that this type of humour based on the race of the character was likely to cause serious offence to some people and be seen as discriminatory.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. and 4.8 4.8 Advertisements must not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment. Advertisements must not prejudice respect for human dignity. (Harm and Offence).
The ad should not be broadcast again.