Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
2 minute read
2 Mar 2021
3:40 pm

Doom using a black actor in ad does not imply black people are ‘stupid’, ASA rules

Sandisiwe Mbhele

Doom representatives claimed there can be no suggestion that the person spraying Doom in the advert is 'stupid', not that it can be sprayed on food.

Doom's latest advertisement ruffled a few feathers. Picture: Screengrab

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled that a Doom advert that aired on SABC2 in which a person sprays insect repellent while eating a pizza was not offensive.

The complainant submitted he believed this was not the first time a Doom advertisement had used black people for its messaging.

The ARB ruling read: “He stated that the advertiser promoted Doom as a safe product to use while eating. The complainant queried why the advertiser elected to use a black person in their advertisement and asked: Why black people because they are ‘stupid’ enough to use Doom on food?”

Watch the advert below:

Doom representatives denied the advertisement suggests that Doom can be sprayed on food. They claimed there can be no suggestion that the person spraying Doom in the advert is “stupid”. Consequently, the fact that a black person is used in the advertisement is not offensive, adding: “The reasonable consumer would not interpret the advertisement to mean that Doom can be sprayed on food.”

During the proceedings, Doom further said the reason a black actor was chosen was to represent the makeup of South Africa and “to reach the broadest possible target market”.

ALSO READ: Heineken SA says Windhoek ad wasn’t meant to ‘offend any viewers’

Doom further added a disclaimer during the run of the advertisement which read: “DO NOT SPRAY ON FOOD. PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN NOT TO EXPOSE FOOD TO THE PRODUCT.”

In its ruling, the ARB said Doom was justified in using a black person, that it was not offensive and it “aligns with its intention to reach the broadest target market”.

However, it was unclear that the person in the ad was spraying the Doom directly on the food.

“Consequently, nothing in the advertisement indicates that the person is being ‘stupid’. However, even if one were to accept that the character in the consumer is displaying stupid behaviour, there is nothing in the commercial that implies that he is doing so because he is black.”

Tiger Brands welcomed the decision, it said: ” Tiger Brands welcomes the decision by the ARB that the Doom advert was indeed not racist.  The casting of a black actor in the advert was based purely on the demographic composition of the South African population. We hold the view that the message depicted in the advert is applicable to all South Africans.”

The brand said they have worked to remain relevant to its consumers by involving the use of everyday moments where their products are likely to be used, “with the intention of connecting with South Africans in a humorous way”.

The regulatory board was pleased with the disclaimer amendment after the complaint was lodged.

“The advert does not suggest that Doom can be sprayed on food.” Tiger Brands concluded that they received few complaints about the advert prior to the ARB complaint being lodged.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.