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ASA bans tyrannical German boss ad

Don't mention the war, watchdog orders Reed Online

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The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Reed Online radio ad featuring a shouty German boss because it "reinforced a negative and outdated cultural stereotype of German people as overpowering and tyrannical".

The offending advert "featured a man speaking to his boss, who responded angrily and loudly in German". The voice-over declared: "Boss a bit of a tyrant? Find your perfect boss on the UK's biggest job site ..."

While thirteen listeners complained the ad was "offensive to Germans", the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) defended that it "believed most listeners would regard the scenario as humorous and inoffensive and were likely to understand that the ranting boss was a tyrant, because he responded angrily to his colleague rather than in a calm way".

The RACC further described the character in question as a generic "German-sounding orator", which it described as "a well established type in comedy culture".*

However, the ASA ruled that the advert breached "CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code Section 2 rule 9 (Good taste and decency)".

The watchdog conceded that "the use of stereotypes was an inevitable part of establishing a character in a short radio ad, but nonetheless considered that such stereotypes should not perpetuate damaging misconceptions".

It concluded that "given the extreme reaction and aggressive tone of the German speaking boss, the ad reinforced a negative and outdated cultural stereotype of German people as overpowering and tyrannical and therefore the ad had the potential to cause serious offence to some listeners".

The ASA ordered the ad should "not be broadcast again in its current form". ®

Bootnote

* Indeed. We can only hope for the ASA's sake that Reed Online doesn't recruit Basil Fawlty to do a few ads.

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