And the complaints flooded in. Like this one:
I feel that this radio ad makes light of disordered eating and the modelling industry. It stated that purchasing this product will get you "a supermodel's lunch" which according to the ad was "a bottle of water". Disordered eating should not be prompted, mocked or taken lightly, it deeply affects many peoples life. The water is advertised as a super model's lunch which is derogatory and offensive to the modelling industry. It portrays models in a bad light and demeans their intelligence. A lot of super models work extremely hard to maintain a high standard of fitness and nutrition and can be positive role models to young women in leading a healthy life. The ad perpetuates negative views of the modelling industry which are no longer representative of the majority of super models. This ad is a form of ridicule and promotes body shaming. I respectfully ask that you review and remove this ad from the radio.Enter the Australian Advertising Standards Board.
The Board noted the reference to water being a supermodel’s lunch and considered that the association between models and starvation is a stereotype. The Board noted that whilst there is still a level of community concern over the health of models, in the Board’s view most reasonable members of the community would interpret this comment as a light-hearted comment which is not intended to imply that all supermodels, male and female, could or should starve themselves. The Board considered that the advertisement did not present models in a negative manner and the use of humour means that the stereotype is not presented in a negative manner. Overall the Board considered that the advertisement did not discriminate or vilify against a person or group of people on account of their gender or occupation.But wait, there's more.
The Board considered Section 2.6 of the Code. Section 2.6 of the Code states: “Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not depict material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on health and safety”.
The Board noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement makes light of eating disorders. The Board noted that there is a level of community concern over the portrayal of models and the prevalence of eating disorders within that industry. The Board noted the placement of the advertisement on the radio and considered that whilst children would not be the target audience it was likely that they would hear the advertisement.
A minority of the Board noted that the association between drinking water for lunch and being a model is an out-dated notion and considered that most members of the community would find the content of the advertisement to be a tongue-in-cheek reference which does not encourage or condone eating disorders.
Following considerable discussion however, the majority of the Board noted that there is a level of community concern around body image and eating disorders, especially with young women. The Board noted that supermodels are often seen as inspirational to young women and considered that by promoting water as a supermodel’s lunch, even in a humorous way, the advertisement is validating the myth that models survive on water and little food. The majority of the Board noted the factual manner in which the voiceover references a supermodel’s lunch twice in a short period of time and considered that the overall message implies that it is okay for models to replace food with water and therefore if you want to be a model then this is acceptable behaviour.
Based on the above the Board considered that the advertisement did depict material contrary to Prevailing Community Standards on healthy eating and body image.
The Board determined that the advertisement did breach Section 2.6 of the Code. Finding that the advertisement did breach Section 2.6 of the Code, the Board upheld the complaints.Stand up comics: Consider yourselves warned.