Doom advert depicting black person not racist: Advertising Regulatory Board

The Advertising Regulatory Board has found that an advertisement promoting Doom is not racist. Stock photo.
The Advertising Regulatory Board has found that an advertisement promoting Doom is not racist. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/PIOTR ADAMOWICZ

The Directorate of the Advertising Regulatory Board has ruled that an advertisement, in which a black person is seen using the insecticide Doom, is not racist.

The ruling comes after Christian Henn lodged a complaint with the directorate against a television commercial promoting Doom, a Tiger Consumer Brands Ltd product.

The complaint referred to a television advertisement on SABC2 for Doom, in which the person in the advertisement is seen watching television while eating a pizza. Upon noticing a fly, he reaches for the Doom can and sprays the fly, killing it.

Henn stated that the company was promoting Doom as a safe product to use while eating and queried why the advertiser had elected to use a black person in the advertisement.

“Why black people, because they are 'stupid' enough to use Doom on food?” Henn asked.

In its response, Tiger Brands Consumer Brands denied that the advertisement suggested that Doom could be sprayed on food.

The company also said there could be no suggestion that the person spraying Doom in the advertisement was stupid.

The company said it had elected to use a black person in the advertisement as black people make up 80% of the South African population.

In reaching its decision, the directorate accepted the advertiser’s claim and justification that the use of a black person aligned with its intention to reach the broadest target market.

“Indeed, the casting of a black person in any role in any advertisement can never, on its own, amount to an offensive act of racism. This would apply to any race. There would need to be something more.

“The directorate is of the view that a reasonable consumer would not view the use of a black person in the advertisement as offensive.”

It found that there was nothing in the advertisement to indicate that the person using the Doom was spraying it on food.

The directorate, however, accepted the company's undertaking that it would include a disclaimer on the advertisement, stating: “Do not spray on food. Precautions should be taken not to expose food to the product.”

“The directorate is satisfied that the amendment of the advertisement to include the disclaimer addresses the complainant’s safety concerns. The advertiser’s voluntary undertaking to amend the advertisement is accepted.”

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