'This advertisement causes distress': NRMA ditches bushfire ad after it's found to breach standards

Supplied: IAG Insurance
  • Australia’s Ad Standards community panel has upheld a complaint that a NRMA Insurance advertisement contained violence that was not linked to the product.
  • The advertiser defended the advertisement, which depicted firefighters set to go fight a blaze, saying that the company was hoping to encourage people to take more regular fire prevention activities.
  • After the panel rejected the defence, the company has pulled the ad from television.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

An insurance advertisement that depicts firefighters taking on bushfires has been pinged by Australia’s advertising standards body following complaints that it is “violent”.

On Friday, the Ad Standards community panel published a decision that upheld a complaint that the IAG Insurance advertisement for NRMA insurance breached Australian Association of National Advertiser (ANAA)’s voluntary Code of Ethics.

The TV advertisement — played on free-to-air — referenced several of Australia’s worst bushfires, and featured footage and voice-overs of firefighters set to take on a blaze.

According to the advertiser, the ad was supposed to show that “while we have always dedicated days to remember Australia’s worst bushfire disasters, we are now dedicating one day of each month to prevention.”

But complaints against the ad received by the panel suggested that it was a sensationalist advertisement that showed ill-equipped firefighters in an unsafe situation, and that it would lead viewers to relive their own experiences with bushfires.

In deciding, the panel considered both the complaints and a response from IAG Insurance.

IAG Insurance argued that the advertisement involved real RFS volunteers who simulated discussion about bushfire in a fictional location. The advertiser said it had worked closely with RFS safety experts to show a safe and realistic depiction of the activity of volunteer firefighters. They also provided positive feedback from other viewers.

But the panel ultimately found that the advertisement breached Section 2.3 of the AANA Code of Ethics that prohibits depictions of violence unless it is directly relevant to the product, determining that the ad was meant to show the firefighters were at real risk of danger.

The majority of the panel found that the link between the product and the footage were not clear, although a minority disagreed.

However, the panel rejected claims that the ad did not show firefighters who were not properly prepared to battle a blaze.

In response, IAG stated it did not agree with the finding that it had breached the code but accepted the decision. The advertiser said it had already updated the advertisement with a disclaimer about safety, and now has discontinued the TV ad.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.