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Optical Superstore television ads banned

04/09/2017By Matthew Woodley
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The Optical Superstore has had a national advertising campaign banned from television, after Commercials Advice – Australia’s commercial television advertising regulator – determined its use of rainbows was too political.

It’s laughable that such a trivial bit in an ad could be seen as being political,
Margaret Douglas, Optical Superstore director

Commercials Advice (CAD) informed the business of its decision, which had immediate effect, via a phone call to the advertisement’s producer. During the phone call it was explained that despite the fact the ad had been broadcast for three months, the use of rainbows was now too political in the context of the upcoming national postal survey on marriage equality.

It’s believed The Optical Superstore is not the only business that has been affected by the ruling, with any ad featuring rainbows deemed to be showing support for one side of the marriage equality vote.

Optical Superstore director Ms Margaret Douglas explained the campaign had been on TV since June and she had initially chosen the theme of the ad simply because she likes rainbows, adding that the business was a victim of the Government’s failure to make decisions on behalf of electors.

“It’s laughable that such a trivial bit in an ad could be seen as being political. There were no statements about the survey that’s coming up, there was no reference to anything like that within the ad, it was just a prop,” she said.

“Rainbows are not just rainbows anymore.”

Douglas further questioned the decision by pointing out that the upcoming High Court challenge, which will test the validity of the postal survey, means it may not go ahead anyway.

The original commercial is below while an edited version of the ad is back on screens, with the rainbows now replaced with fluffy white clouds. The other alternative would have been to include a disclaimer at the end of the ad.

The Optical Superstore operates 62 stores nationally except for Tasmania. 

CAD provides classification and information services to advertisers, agencies and production houses in relation to television commercials and infomercials. All television commercials and infomercials must be classified before they can be broadcast.

UPDATE: September 6 at 11am

The CEO of CAD Ms Pamela Longstaff has explained that the decision to ban the ad was in direct response to a recent briefing from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) – the industry regulator that interprets the Broadcasting Services Act.

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According to Longstaff, ACMA specifically identified the use of rainbows symbols as political content in the context of the marriage equality debate, effectively forcing CAD to act.


I accept that this may be an overly strict application of the rules, but the real problem here is that there is no objective test or any clear guidance from ACMA,”
Pamela Longstaff, CAD CEO

“This ad highlights the complexity of determining what is a political matter, particularly in this heightened political environment. Our industry has been struggling under excessive amounts of red tape for years and this is just another example,” Longstaff said.

“We have been given a set of extremely complex and subjective rules to interpret by the industry regulator and left to do our best, with the consequence of potential breach of licence condition by broadcasters if we get it wrong.

“I accept that this may be an overly strict application of the rules, but the real problem here is that there is no objective test or any clear guidance from ACMA.”

WATCH BANNED TELEVISION COMMERCIAL


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