'Humiliating and abusive' coffee shop ad banned

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 10 January 2017
The Muzz Buzz ad was determined to perpetuate bullying

An ad for coffee shop Muzz Buzz has been banned by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) after being slammed as “paedophilic”, “creepy” and “inappropriate”.

The TV spot shows a man and boy in a car going through a drive through a coffee shop. He has ordered a cold drink and once this has been handed to him we see him take the lid off and empty the contents over the head of the boy in the front passenger seat next to him. 

The drink falls over his head and drips on to his face. The man then uses his finger to wipe some of the drink from the boy's head then sucks his finger clean and says: "Mmm. Delicious sticky boy”.

One complainant wrote the ad was suggestive of bullying and an act of child abuse.

“Under no circumstances is pouring a beverage on a child’s head acceptable. The first time I saw this ad it reminded me of abuse. Nothing comical of this ad. Each time I have seen it makes me feel quite upset for the child actor,” the complainant says.

“We find this act demeaning to the child and an act of child abuse. It also normalises waste of food a grave insult to the starving poor. These three ads are violent, messy and disgusting, promoting a shocking message to children - the very audience they target. These three ads are not responsible. Further they are promoting anger.”

The advertiser responded saying the ad was intended to be humorous and Muzz Buzz did not intend to imply a sexual nature in the ad.

“The concerns around sexualisation of children have, frankly, shocked us. Again, strong focus was taken during casting and direction to ensure Muzz Buzz did not imply a sexual or predatory nature to the adult male’s actions,” Muzz Buzz says.

The ASB determined the advertisement could be considered abusive and it did have sexual overtones and therefore it was banned.

“The board considered that the action of pouring a drink over someone’s head was clearly negative and held the victim up to be humiliated. The board considered that depiction in conjunction with a suggestion that the behaviour had happened previously did amount to a depiction of bullying,” the ASB says.

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