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Kiwibank's little cliff-jumper falls foul of the ASA

Kiwibank's little cliff-jumper falls foul of the ASA
Cliff jumping has been deemed irresponsible by the Advertising Standards Authority, resulting in a partial upholding of a complaint against Kiwibank for failing to display a "due sense of responsibility to consumers and to society”.

Cliff jumping Kiwibank adCliff jumping has been deemed irresponsible by the Advertising Standards Authority, resulting in a partial upholding of a complaint against Kiwibank for failing to display a "due sense of responsibility to consumers and to society”.

The stunt was portrayed in Kiwibank's 10th birthday ad, along with other kiddie shenanigans including dashing onto a playing field in defiance of warning signs and speeding down sandhills.

Complainant T Waelen said the ad encouraged children to flout rules and couldn't understand how it related to Kiwibank.

Other complainants voiced similar opinions and additional concerns, including children participating in potentially dangerous activities with a lack of adult supervision, breaking the rules to get what they want, and even going too fast down the sandhills.

Kiwibank responded by saying the ad captured scenes from a typical Kiwi childhood. Of the rock-jumping scene, it said: "In fact, the boy lives locally and regularly jumps at this well known swimming hole at McLaren Falls. It would be disappointing if quintessentially Kiwi activities such as climbing trees, using rope swings, jumping into rivers and mud slides were banned from advertisements."

Rock jumping

Kiwibank’s view differs to that of the complainants and if does not consider this scene to be either socially irresponsible or unduly dangerous. The scene shows Kiwi children outdoors, having fun. Kiwibank acknowledges that leaping off a rock into a swimming hole involves an element of risk (as do most physical activities), but these risks are slight and were clearly mitigated by the following measures incorporated into the advertisement:

- started showing a wet boy (i.e. he had already checked out the jump and it was safe to do so);

- there was only one child jumping at a time;

- there were no swimmers directly below the jumper; and

- there were two adults in the foreground supervising as the boy jumps, and a family group in the background as he surfaces.

Ogilvy, the agency behind the ad, liaised with the Television Commercial Approvals Bureau, which made various recommendations that were incorporated into the script.

"We also note that Ogilvy liaised with Water Safety New Zealand when writing the advertisement. Water Safety New Zealand was provided photos of the location and children jumping from the rocks, together with details of the measures set out above. Water Safety New Zealand confirmed that the brief and proposed mitigation strategies were acceptable, while emphasising the significance of the inclusion of adult supervision. Water Safety New Zealand has subsequently raised issues in respect of the advertisement but has stated that it will not pursue this matter."

The Complaints Board found the cliff jumping scenario had shown the boy behaving in a dangerous way and, coupled with the tag line “I’d stand up for trying something new, and even a bit crazy,” encouraged a disregard for safety. A minority disagreed.

But in the end it was decided the advertisement had not been prepared with a due sense of responsibility to consumers/society and was in breach of Basic Principle 4 and Rule 12 of the Code of Ethics.