There have been a couple of occasions recently when I speculated that we had reached peak lunacy in the so-called culture wars. It turns out I was woefully wrong and pathetically over-optimistic.
New heights of madness are scaled almost weekly, the latest being the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling that a Streets advertising sign proclaiming that “ice cream makes you happy” should be removed because “the implicit claim that there is a link between ice cream and happiness could potentially undermine the health and wellbeing of consumers”.
Good grief. It’s bad enough that some wretched soul felt motivated to complain that the ad promoted “an unhealthy relationship with food”, but infinitely more depressing that the ASA agreed. And to think I was feeling sympathetic for the advertising watchdog because it had recently been under attack from Andrew “Sour Grapes” Little after it turned down his complaint against a newspaper ad placed by National MP Nick Smith relating to Pike River (which itself qualifies for inclusion on the peak lunacy index, but that’s another story).
Unilever Australasia, which owns the Streets brand, has announced it will appeal. That’s good, but it’s tragic that we must now rely on a multinational corporate to defend free speech in advertising.
As for me, I’m forced to recalibrate my peak lunacy barometer. There’s clearly some way to go before the craziness starts to subside.