MFI's domestic violence ad banned after hundreds complain

LONDON - The ASA has banned an ad featuring a woman slapping her husband after he leaves the toilet seat up, following more than 200 complaints about MFI's recent series of ads, which labelled them as offensive, shocking and disturbing.

The advertising watchdog received 217 complaints about a series of five TV ads, created by M&C Saatchi, for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms firm MFI .

The banned ad shows a woman noticing that the toilet seat has been left up and shouting at her husband to come into the bathroom. When he comes in she slaps him on the cheek and shouts: "You've done it again haven't you? Haven't you?"

She then shouts again and slaps him a second time. A salesman walks in and says to the couple: "Ah, I see you have found the soft close toilet seat."

Viewers complained about seven different issues, with most viewers, including one who had been a victim of domestic violence, objecting that the ads were offensive, shocking and disturbing.

It was also claimed the ads were irresponsible, because they suggested that arguing and shouting were normal features of family life.

The watchdog upheld the complaints about the toilet seat ad because the woman's action of slapping her husband twice as punishment for leaving the toilet seat up, gave the impression that aggression and violence enabled people in everyday life to get their own way.

The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the scene of domestic violence in the ad was likely to cause "serious or widespread offence to viewers and could be seen to condone intimidation, domestic violence and aggression as an acceptable way to resolve issues".

The ASA decided that the other four ads in the series were unlikely to be seen to depict scenes of child or domestic abuse or trivialise those issues and were therefore acceptable for broadcast with an ex-kids restriction.

Back in July, MFI amended one of the ads, which featured a mother accosting her teenage daughter for being out late, by dubbing it into Spanish with subtitles following the deluge of complaints about that ad.

The ad opened with a caption informing viewers that MFI amended it as it was not "everyone's cup of tea". MFI has also asked consumers to comment on the ad on its website.