Kia ad does not promote 'domestic violence', says watchdog

By By Amy Kellow | 7 December 2012

The ad watchdog has ditched a case against car brand Kia for its 'Fathertism' television spot despite one viewer arguing it encouraged "parental alienation".

The ad, created by local agency Innocean, showed a family with children who excluded the mother and pandered to the father. It included shots of the children closing their bedroom door on the mother, and her finding family portraits in which she was excluded.

It carried the tagline 'Expect a little Fathertism' and was aiming to promote Kia's new Sorento model.

One viewer told the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) it was "offensive" and "inappropriate".

The complaintant said: "I find this advert offensive because I believe it is depicting parental alienation, this where one parent exclude or turns the children against the other parent. The expression on the girl's face when she closes the door to the mother and effectively shuts her out shows this clearly in my opinion."

The consumer also said the ad showed a situation not unlike those of domestic violence and should thus be banned.

"Parental alienation commonly happens in situations of domestic violence and this in itself makes the advert inappropriate. Further, I think that showing such behaviour on television makes it 'acceptable' in the eyes of society."

Kia denied the claims, telling the ASB the ad was aiming to be "humorous" and it didn't believe fathers would actually be favoured if they bought the car. 

It said: "The 'Fathertism' commercial was developed using exaggeration and humour as a technique to talk to Fathers who may consider purchasing a new Kia Sorento. Kia does not believe that Fathers will actually receive any beneficial treatment as a result of this commercial.

"The objective of the commercial was to have a light hearted approach to the typical Australian family dynamic. We do not believe that we are discriminating or vilifying the mother in the commercial rather we are presenting the Father as a hero in a humorous way."

Following this, the watchdog sided with Kia and moved to dismiss the complaint.

"The board noted the light-hearted tone of the advertisement and considered that the suggestion that children would favour their father based on the car he has chosen is depicted in a manner which is humorous, and does not suggest that fathers in general are better than mothers.

"Most members of the community would agree that the advertisement does not encourage bad behaviour towards mothers. Based on the above the Board determined that, in this instance, that the advertisement did not depict any material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of society."

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