Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad, for Kabuto noodles, featured on-screen text that stated "THE IMPROVISED AD BREAK" and "SCENARIO #3 KABUTO SAMURAI (DUBBED)". The ad featured four actors on a stage in front of an audience. Two of the actors were speaking in an accent, which the remaining two actors were 'translating'.
1. Four complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive, because it mocked other cultures and races.
2. One complainant also challenged whether the ad encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment.
1. & 2. Kabuto Foods Ltd said they did not intend for the ad to be perceived as offensive or racist. They said the ad was an ironic gesture towards their own identity.
Clearcast did not believe the ad would encourage socially harmful discrimination or cause serious or widespread offence. They said the style of sketch depicted in the ad, in which a 'foreign language film' was acted out and badly dubbed, was a well-known staple of improvisational comedy. They believed the improvised sketch was more akin to a spoof of 1970s-style martial arts films than an attack on any Asian language or people. They also believed the style of comedy was absurdist rather than cruel or mocking.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA noted the scene in the ad was presented as an improvisational comedy sketch and considered the presentation of the actors made clear that the language used and the 'translations' were fictitious.
We considered that the humour was derived from the fictitious translation, rather than from mocking the culture and race of others. Whilst we acknowledged that some viewers may find the ad distasteful, we did not consider it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, or encourage harmful and discriminatory behaviour or treatment.
On that basis, we concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility), 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. 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) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.