MultiChoice advert showing young black man sneaking into his car to watch soccer, not offensive

The Advertising Regulatory Board has ruled in favour of MultiChoice’s streaming advert. Picture: Pixabay

The Advertising Regulatory Board has ruled in favour of MultiChoice’s streaming advert. Picture: Pixabay

Published Apr 29, 2024


The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled in favour of MultiChoice over an offensive advert complaint.

Consumer Thulani Timile hauled MultiChoice to the ARB over an advert which they found was offensive and unacceptable.

The advert in question shows a young black man sneaking into his car during working hours to watch a soccer match which he streamed on his phone.

An older, white woman then comes to the parking lot looking for the man, carrying in her hand what appears to be a work task and shouts his name, Thulani.

According to the ARB, in essence the consumer found the advert offensive for portraying a black man being irresponsible by abandoning his work to go hide in his vehicle to enjoy a soccer match streamed on his phone.

The consumer also found it offensive that a white woman is portrayed as a boss who is responsible and concerned about the black irresponsible employee who has neglected his work.

“The complainant further submits that the woman is shown carrying work or a task in her hand and calling the man’s name ‘maternalistically’, and he appears to have an idiotic look on his face.“

In its response, MultiChoice argued that the use of a young person combined with the a soccer match ensures the advertisement is relevant to its target audience.

They said the race of the person is irrelevant.

MultiChoice further stated that the aim of the advert was to be entertaining and humorous.

The ARB was asked to rule on whether the advert breached offensive advertising and unacceptable advertising.

In its ruling, the ARB found that there is nothing in the advertisement that suggests that the young man deserted his work simply because he is black, or that black people in general abandon their responsibilities, and other races do not.

They further added that the Directorate of the ARB was not convinced that the older female character is the “boss”.

“She seems to be a concerned colleague who is looking for him, more worried than angry,” the Directorate said.

It further stated that in SA when a commercial is made, the actors will be of some race.

“It is impossible to cast a racially neutral person.

“It is also noted that advertising will often try to appeal to its target market by using someone that they can relate to – and in South Africa that will mean that the large majority of characters in advertising will be black, reflecting the demographics of the country.”

In conclusion, the ARB said if they were to rule against every advertisement where a black character is funny or awkward or “the baddie” or otherwise imperfect, it would become almost impossible to make advertising in South Africa.

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