The ad watchdog has upheld a complaint made against the ‘Smell like a Sir’ Father’s Day campaign from Chemist Warehouse, forcing the discount chain to pull all advertising that featured a man holding a pipe.
The Ad Standards Bureau (ASB) received a complaint about the advertisement of tobacco smoking on TV, as well as a child being used in the promotion, which prompted the inquiry.
A man is seen dressed as a character from British yesteryear, complete with moustache, bow tie, monocle and pipe. He is accompanied by a child who wears similar attire, however without the pipe.
Chemist Warehouse at first dismissed the claims, arguing the complaint “so fatuous and unfounded” they took no action to respond to the ASB.
After repeated attempts to get a response, the company hit back, arguing that the character presented is a stereotypical representation of a British ‘sir’ and is humorous, not aspirational or desirable. The company stated: “The character displayed is more Charlie Chaplin than Charlie Sheen.”
“The entire advertisement is a light hearted satirical look at those clichéd representations of British nobility. No reasonable viewing of this advertisement by any reasonable reader would result in them concluding that we were in any way endeavouring to promote pipe smoking as a desirable and sophisticated habit. On the contrary having the pipe appear in his parody of nobility somewhat diminishes any perceived sophistication of the habit.”
The Board considered the characterisation and found the ad sent a message to the audience glamorising smoking as a sophisticated activity. They also noted that while the pipe was a prop, using smoking paraphernalia next to a child should not be encouraged.
As a result, the Board upheld the complaint and forced Chemist Warehouse to remove all advertising reflecting the ‘Smell like a sir’ message.
In response to the findings, Chemist Warehouse said: “We thank the Board for its determination and confirm that in light of your findings we will no longer be using the offending advertising material. It has been withdrawn.”
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