By Ian Neubauer

Coca-Cola South Pacific has again been rapped on the knuckles over its advertising, this time over a TV commercial for Coke Zero deemed degrading and offensive to women.

Entitled ‘The Break-up’, the advertisement shows a man breaking up with his girlfriend at a roadside diner. The girlfriend acknowledges the man wants to be with more than one woman and then offers herself to him on a casual basis. “Just call me when you want to have fun,” she says.

Advertising watchdog The Australian Standards Bureau (ASB) received numerous complaints from viewers who claimed the advertisement promoted casual sex for men and the exploitation of women and was inappropriate for viewing by children.

“I should not have to let my nephews see this and [see] them think ‘I can treat a women this way’,” said one complainant.

Added another: “It sets poor standards for teenage men, particularly in this day and age, where people consider that moral standards have already slipped. As a woman, this ad offends me, and I fell that it is completely inappropriate.”

Coca-Cola South Pacific said the concept behind the advertisement aimed “to take an exaggerated look at a common fantasy: having the ability to ‘re-write’ an unfortunate episode in your life in a way that produces a much more satisfying if unrealistic outcome”. It said the advertisement was intended to be portrayed as tongue-in-cheek.

The company nevertheless decided to withdraw the advertisement from television but requested permission to continue to make it available online and in cinemas.

But the ASB rejected the request, saying the advertisement did not treat sexuality with sensitivity to the audience and timezone and had thus breached section 2.3 of the Advertising Standards Code.

It marks the second time in a month that Coca-Cola South Pacific has been made to eat it words over the content of its advertising.

In early April, the company was forced to publish corrective advertisements over a 2008 campaign in which actress Kerry Armstrong claimed Coca-Cola products cannot contribute to weight gain.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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