Toohey's ad cleared despite complaints of a gay sex act

The ad watchdog has dismissed complaints a Toohey's TV commercial featured a homosexual sex act between a man and his father-in-law in a sauna.

The ad, part of the Toohey's New 'Mateship' campaign from BMF, shows how a man and his father-in-law bonding over the shared experience of escaping a gym's sauna after being accidentally locked in.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) received complaints the men's escape from the sauna was made to resemble the two men in a sexual act as the younger of the two men must lift “his apparently naked father-in-law” in order for them to reach the roof.

“When I first saw this ad I was shocked at what looked like two guys having sex in a sauna,” a complainant wrote. “When I looked at the ad on YouTube I saw a comment that mentioned that they were trying to escape from it but it really doesn't look like that. Please take this off-air.”

Lion, the owner of the Toohey's New brand, rejected the charges, stating the ad showed a “humorous” and intentionally “awkward and somewhat undesirable situation” that culminated in the two characters becoming friends.

“The scene is not sexually suggestive, there is no full frontal nudity and it is clear to the audience that the characters are seeking a way out of the sauna, rather than engaging in a sexual act,” Lion wrote.

The ASB responded the ad is “intended to depict an uncomfortable yet humorous situation” and ruled “most members of the community would not interpret this specific scene as sexual”.

The complaint was dismissed and the ad continues to air unaltered.

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