A TV ad for extra-marital affairs dating website Ashley Madison was from broadcast in Australia after the country’s advertising watchdog ruled it was “demeaning and vilifying of women.” It’s also just really weird.
The ad (watch it in full below) featured a man singing a catchy jingle: “Looking for someone other than my wife.” He is joined by another man who sings alone and scrolls and strums through women on the Ashley Madison website on his tablet, as if he was playing guitar.
It generated a long-list of complaints to the Australian Advertising Standards Board, with complaints varying from saying the ad had the “potential to destroy families” to others accusing the spot of being sexist.
Here’s a sample of some of the complaints:
“I object to this advertising because it is promoting promiscuity in married men. I also find it sexist that only men are encouraged to commit adultery in their marriage, not women.”
“I feel that it degrades women that it could give men an idea to cheat on their wife it breaks up marriages and family’s I find it very offending and degrading I don’t think it should be on television the fact that the add is men singing I am looking for someone other than my wife I find discussing [sic] it is a sleazy advert that should be removed not encouraging me to cheat.”
“The advert is inappropriate, highly immoral, disgusting and wrong, by promoting the act of cheating on your marriage partner. By encouraging dishonesty and immorality, it should not be approved by any television or other media channel, on the basis of gender discrimination. The ad is distasteful and offensive to any married woman and therefore does not promote a healthy marital relationship.”
In its investigation, the majority of the Ad Standards Board found the emphasis on the term “wife” gave a strong message that wives are “inadequate or somehow lacking” — a suggestion that is degrading and has the potential to demean wives, the adjudication said.
The Board also thought the depiction of the man swiping through the catalogue of women “strongly depicts women as a commodity to be bought and is demeaning and vilifying of women.”
The complaints were upheld, meaning the ad must not be shown again in its current form.
Avid, which owns Ashley Madison, responded to the decision with this statement: “Avid strives to work co-operatively and collaboratively with the Board. While we don’t agree with the recent decision, we respect the Board’s decision and will abide by it. We have decided to pull the ad and replace it with a different advertisement (which we believe will not receive nearly the same frequency of complaints).”
Last year, Australian marketing trade title Mumbrella notes, complaints about a separate Ashley Madison ad generated more than 300 complaints.
Despite the TV ad being pulled, a version of it still exists on YouTube:
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