M&C Saatchi’s latest television commercial for Foster’s Ice has
come under fire for encouraging racism, according to the Independent
Television Commission’s latest Television Advertising Complaints
The ad opens in the style of a documentary or charity ad, showing an
elderly bushman apparently searching for water. The voiceover explains
that the man is trying to find a toad in the muddy remnants of a
waterhole, so that he can suck out the water in the frog’s body.
When a large kangaroo bounds into view, the old man drops the frog in
fright and the man’s streetwise son complains that his father was ’never
the sharpest tool in the box’ and that he would have been better off
drinking Foster’s Ice lager.
The ad attracted 132 complaints from viewers, who said that the campaign
was in poor taste. The references to drought and, by implication,
famine, were considered unsuitable for comic treatment and some viewers
felt the depiction of the bushman could encourage racist attitudes to
people in developing countries.
The ITC decided that if the ad was shown close to documentaries or news
reports about droughts or famines, more viewers might have found it
However, the ITC felt the commercial did not depict human suffering but
ingenious survival techniques and decided it would be excessive to
intervene on the grounds of taste since most viewers would see the ad as
a light-hearted pastiche of a documentary and, therefore, unlikely to
encourage racist attitudes.
Channel 5 also came under fire in the report for the scheduling of ad
breaks in live basketball coverage from the US. A member of the ITC’s
Viewer Consultative Council queried the insertion of an ad break during
The ITC decided that there was not sufficient reason to insert a break
that disrupted coverage of the game and contravened the rules requiring
breaks to be inserted only at natural break points. The complaint was