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In this case study, we examine a recent complaint we made on behalf of concerned community groups regarding an advertising campaign pertaining to the pop culture caricature, Borat. The case presents a potential pathway for concerned community groups when it comes to public advertising.


Recently, Birchgrove Legal acted on behalf of concerned community figures in relation to offensive public advertisements that were felt discriminatory and inappropriate by sections of the community. 

The advertisements in question were billboards, and centered on the infamous character Borat.

The billboard saw Borat posing suggestively with little in the way of clothing to cover him, in the process wearing a ring which contained sacred religious writing in Arabic. 

Accordingly, a complaint was submitted with Ad Standards, the body which manages the complaint resolution process of the advertising self-regulation system.

Australian advertisements must comply with the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics, which is a national standard which advertisements cannot breach.

Birchgrove Legal asserted that the advertisement in question had breached Code of Ethics Section 2.1, which refers to the discrimination and vilification of specific religions in advertisements, Code of Ethics Section 2.2 which refers to the use of sexual appeal in a manner that is exploitative or degrading of a group of people , and Code of Ethics Section 2.4 which refers to the use of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience of the advertisement.

This case study presents a potential pathway for other community organisations seeking to remove offensive advertising content. 

Birchgrove Legal would like to thank the Ad Standards Community Panel for its serious consideration of our assertions, namely that it did not give proper regard to the provisions of the AANA Code of Ethics.

Birchgrove Legal is a boutique Sydney law firm at the cutting edge of innovative approaches to serving clients across its practice areas and industry sectors. Get in touch with one of our authors to discuss your needs further.

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