The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has dismissed a complaint against a Telkom Business radio commercial which punted the popularity and affordability of its tablet PC deals.
The commercial begins with a character introducing himself, saying: “Hi, my name’s James.” A group of voices responds by saying: “Hi James.” He then says: “I’m addicted to tablets.”
The voice of a lady interrupts, saying: “Me too…I can’t get enough of my Samsung Galaxy.” Another man from within the group says: “I know what you’re saying, I have a Motorola Xoom and an HTC Flyer.”
The closing voice-over says: “With leading tablet brands at only R249 a month, don’t be surprised if you and your colleagues become a little infatuated. Get more mobile for your money by choosing a package that suits your budget and your business needs. Mobile solutions brought to you by Telkom Business.”
This advertisement did not go down well with David Lewis, who lodged a complaint with the ASA, arguing that the commercial is offensive as it parodies NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) fellowships, thereby perpetuating the stigma attached to addiction.
Telkom Business responded saying that the word “tablet” is an ordinary and acceptable word that may refer to pills, but today is commonly known to refer to electronic gadgets or computers that are larger than mobile phones and predominantly operated by touch-screen capability.
The company added that while it accepts that historically addiction referred to a physical or psychological dependency on a substance such as alcohol or drugs, today’s “addiction” extends to all abnormal psychological dependencies whether substance or other.
The ASA dismissed the complaint, saying that the commercial is clearly meant to be a light hearted play on people being infatuated with their “tablet” computers.
“The Directorate notes further that the word addict, as used within the context of ‘addicted to’, is not offensive in this context. People often refer to themselves or others as being for example, addicted to work and workaholics or even being addicted to eating chocolate and being chocoholics,” the ASA said.
“The Directorate accepts that to a recovering addict any scenario that pokes fun at the devastation that addiction often causes and the hardships that have to be overcome subsequently may be sensitive. However, the commercial does not contain such ridicule,” the ASA said.