Why was the Ultra Tune ad banned?

Okay, so this probably won’t make me any friends, but have you seen the Ultra Tune advert that has recently been banned for vilifying women?

Ultra Tune is seeking an independent review of the decision by the Advertising Standards Board to ban the ad from the internet and television – and rightly so, in my opinion.

The ad features two scantily clad women driving a convertible along the road, until the car breaks down and comes to a standstill across a railway track. Cue the clichéd loud horn of an oncoming train, the screams of the women who face imminent death, then the ensuing fade to black accompanying the sound of an explosion. The image returns with the two women triumphantly walking away from the wreckage a la Charlie Angels heroines …

Sexist? Maybe a little bit. But enough to warrant a ban? Surely not. Now, I’m a very un-sexist type of guy, which is obviously the first thing a sexist will say. Those who know me, know that I am all for the rights of women, but I also have a sense of humour. I just needed to get that out of the way before I launch into my diatribe.

Come on. The Australia Day lamb advert was more ridiculous and somewhat more offensive to vegans. The old American Express “Ah Mr Wong, I’ve lost all my travellers cheques” was surely a tad un-PC, but did that get banned? No. Or how about the Dorito’s advert recently aired at the 2016 Super Bowl: could a case for promoting child abuse be made for that one? Or the wrongful representation of expecting fathers? Are we just looking for a reason to complain?

The Ultra Tune advert has received complaints for being “disrespectful and degrading to women” and for portraying women as sex objects in a “bimbo” manner. Am I missing something? Am I watching the same ad? Sheez. On that rationale, no advertisements should feature questionably attractive ladies wearing clothes readily available at any Kmart or Cue store. And if they wear make up and muss up their hair a little? Oh my, just call in the armed forces.

There have been complaints that the ad makes the women appear unintelligent, but you can bet your bottom dollar that, with exactly the same script and message, and a pair of handsome male leads taking the place of the female stars, this ad would be running right now with no complaints. Bimbos? Really? All Ultra Tune is saying is “get your car serviced to avoid unexpected situations” such as your car breaking down across a railway track.

And how is it being any more disrespectful to women than the lamb advert was to vegans? The lamb ad definitely did have a crack at vegans, but it was still kind of funny, and was decreed inoffensive and allowed to run. I have to ask, though: what if it was a scantily clad vegan female instead of the bearded hippy fellow? Well, once again, cue the armed forces. 

I don’t watch a lot of television, so I don’t see a lot of adverts, but, from what I can gather, the grounds for banning the Ultra Tune advert seem to be completely ridiculous. All I see is an action film–styled commercial featuring a pair of strong, sexy heroines who won’t even let a train wreck stop them from their mission. I must say that anyone who sees this as disrespectful, must take a long, hard look for their sense of humour.

And besides, surely there are more pressing issues that require our attention.

Do you think this ad is sexist? Why? Do you think it deserves to be banned? What would you do to tone it down? Are we becoming a humourless society?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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