Meeting 14 October 2008
Complainant: M. Tindill, M. Taitz & G. Read
Advertisement: Demon Drinks Ltd
Complaint: This referred to two different advertisements for Killa Cola in different
The Acting Chairman ruled on 3 September 2008 that the advertisement on the bus
shelter did not reach the threshold to breach the Advertising Codes and thereby
there were no grounds for it to proceed.
The website advertisement which is the subject of this Decision contained the
The home page was headed “DEMON ENERGY
NO LIMITS NO LAWS” .
It contained weblinks to “Shot of the Month” and “Girl of the Month”.
Included in the first, was a photograph of a dog urinating on a person’s head as they
lay on the ground. A caption below said:
“June 08 – Big thanks to Kyle for sending it in – what a sweet way to wake up eh?”.
The “Girl of the Month” was Allie who was posed looking over her shoulder at the
viewer, dressed in matching pink and black checked bra and pants. The caption
“Allie August 07 – Au Pair, Nanny, Governess, Baby-Sitter. This months Girl of the
month Allie, is all of the above and more she also loves animals, hanging out beach
style and most impressively loves watching FMX.”
Complainants, M. Tindill, M. Taitz & G. Read, said:
“We are writing in response to the Advertising Standards Authority decision (ref:
08/328) that the DEMON energy drink advertiser had breached the advertising code
in regards to the use of sexualized imagery to sell an unrelated product, namely
DEMON Killa Tropo.
Since this decision was made the advertiser has released a second drink product,
DEMON Killa Cola, making minor changes to the creative aspects of the
advertisement’s content. This includes removing one of the two sexualized images of
women that were present in the in the previous format. However, and unfortunately,
the image that remains is still within the parameters of the first complaint.
Specifically that the image on this advertisement continues to exploit and manipulate
an association between soft-pornographic imagery of women and active young
sportsmen. The advertiser continues to breach the advertising code in regards to the
use of sexualized imagery to sell an unrelated product.
Further to this we wish to make strenuous complaint in regards to the content of the
advertiser’s website. The website is not only in breach of the same advertising code
as mentioned above, it is also grossly exploitative of women’s sexuality, and is in
parts profoundly debasing and socially irresponsible. The content should therefore be
considered for immediate and permanent censure.
The amateur photo gallery within the website includes an image of an animal
urinating on a women’s face. Further to this, the professional and out-right
pornographic gallery of `girl of the month’ shots are accompanied by blatantly
suggestive captions which contain sexual messages.
It is especially disturbing because the website uses pornography to sell a
consumable to an inappropriate and unsuspecting audience. Explicit content within
this site is highly likely to avoid detection by filtering software which is designed to
protect children from websites with offensive content. An adult or child can visit this
website without any intention of viewing offensive material.
The promotions and advertising methods are not only unrelated to the products, they
also promote a dangerous form of masculinity by coupling messages of lawlessness
(‘No Limits-Na Laws’, ‘killa…’ ), macho imagery and text (‘Balls of Steel’) and unreal,
passive representations of female sexuality. Surely this is socially irresponsible
considering the national statistics on physical and sexual violence by men against
women and the overrepresentation of young men as violent offenders? The overall
tone of this campaign normalises deviant behaviour and conflates sexuality and
We ask the Advertising Standards Authority to undertake a serious review of all of
this advertiser’s promotions and their contents. Moreover we request this because
the advertiser is actively engaged in the promotion of a wide range of sports and
social events, alcohol-related promotions and competitions, all of which are that are
aimed at a youth demographic. The website address is as follows:
The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant:
Code of Ethics
Basic Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of
social responsibility to consumers and to society.
Rule 5: Offensiveness – Advertisements should not contain anything which in
the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious
or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and
product (including services).
Rule 7: Violence – Advertisements should not contain anything which lends
support to unacceptable violent behaviour.
Code for People in Advertising
Basic Principle 5: Advertisements should not employ sexual appeal in a
manner which is exploitative and degrading of any individual or group of
people in society to promote the sale of products or services. In particular
people should not be portrayed in a manner which uses sexual appeal simply
to draw attention to an unrelated product. Children must not be portrayed in a
manner which treats them as objects of sexual appeal
The Advertiser, Demon Drinks Ltd, said:
“We are again surprised with M. Tindill’s multiple complaints and appreciate your
sensible approach to declining her complaint about the Killa Cola Bus shelter.
There is no promotion of our website www.DemonEnergy.co.nz on the bus shelter,
so we find her argument on this topic somewhat irrelevant. We do not actually
promote the NZ website in any media or anywhere in the NZ marketplace - the only
website we do promote on very few occasions is www.DemonEnergy.com. This is
normally only in mature publications such as FHM magazine where the content of the
website is no worse than that of the magazine. Most of the content is sent in and
automatically loaded by consumers/the public. We try to keep an eye on content and
remove any imagery that is deemed inappropriate to our brand. We have removed
the image of the dog.
Further to any issues relating to our website www.DemonEnergy.com, by Tuesday
23rd Sept, we will have a warning on the front page of www.DemonEnergy.com that
warns that the site is R16 and content may not be appropriate to people under the
age of 16 or other people with very conservative views.
We hope that this solves the current issue.”
The Complaints Board perused the relevant correspondence and website
advertisement. It noted the view expressed by the Complainants that the
advertisement was offensive and that it used exploitative sexual imagery and
“blatantly suggestive captions … to sell a consumable to an inappropriate and
The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with
reference to the Code of Ethics, Basic Principle 4 and Rules 5 and 7. Also, the Code
for People in Advertising, Basic Principle 5.
In making its determination the Complaints Board was required to consider whether
the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to
consumers and to society as required by Basic Principle 4, and/or whether, in the
light of generally prevailing community standards, it was likely to cause serious or
widespread offence, taking into account the context, medium, audience and product,
as contained in Rule 5. Rule 7 required the Complaints Board to determine whether
the advertisement contained anything which lent support to unacceptable violent
behaviour. Basic Principle 5 of the Code for People in Advertising required the
Complaints Board to consider whether the website advertisement used sexual appeal
in a manner which was exploitative and degrading of any individual or group of
people in society to promote the sale of an unrelated product.
As a preliminary matter, the Complaints Board noted the Advertiser’s response
where it said that the website was only promoted in selected mature publications,
and the website address was not included in the bus shelter advertisement. Also,
that the image including the dog had been removed in a self-regulatory manner, and
an R16 warning would be included on the front page of website advertisement. It
noted where the Advertiser advised that they did try to monitor the images published
and remove those it deemed inappropriate. The Complaints Board reiterated that in
all instances it was an advertiser’s responsibility to ensure that material published
complied with the Advertising Codes.
The Complaints Board then took the medium into account and, in particular, that a
consumer would be required to make a choice to gain access to the Advertisement.
Not only would a person have to deliberately access the homepage, but they would
also have to click on the relevant weblink. The Complaints Board also took into
account that the product branding and evident market positioning would alert
consumers to the likely type of content on the website and, in fact, the content
before it had been consumer generated.
Having made the above observations, the Complaints Board said the website
advertisement met the due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4
and was not in breach of that provision. Furthermore, in the Complaints Board’s view,
it did not meet the threshold to be likely to cause serious or widespread offence or
lend support to unacceptable violent behaviour, and thereby was not in breach of
Rules 5 and 7. The Complaints Board said the image of the woman in the clothing
worn and pose shown together with the written caption, in the context of the website
advertisement, did not meet the threshold to be said to use sexual appeal in a
manner which was exploitative and degrading of any individual or group of people to
promote the sale of an unrelated product, and thereby the Advertisement was not in
breach of Basic Principle 5 of the Code for People in Advertising.
Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the complaint.
Decision: Complaint Not Upheld