The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ordered Webafrica to withdraw or amend its advertising using the slogan “Effing Fast Internet”.
The ruling followed consumer complaints against Webafrica’s radio advert on Smile FM and a billboard on the grounds of Trafalgar High School in Cape Town.
The billboard features an image of a man flying with a jetpack and states “Effing Fast Internet. Fibre. LTE at home. ADSL”.
In the radio advertisement, there is a conversation between a radio producer and voice artist, which goes as follows:
VO Artist: “Webafrica Internet is… [sound of a bleep] fast. …Dude, did you just bleep me?”
Producer: “You can’t say that on radio.”
VO Artist: “Oh! What do you mean I can’t say [sound of bleep]?”
VO Artist: “How ‘bout [sound of a bleep] fast?”
VO Artist: “And [sound of several bleeps]”
VO Artist: “Wow. Ah, okay, what about ..err…err effing?”
Producer: [sighs] “Ja…”
VO Artist: “Ok! Rad.”
VO Artist: “Visit webafrica.co.za for fibre, LTE at home, and ADSL. Webafrica. Effing fast internet”.
The ASA received two complaints about the advertising, arguing it is offensive.
The first complainant said he had to explain to his daughter what “effing” means when they drove past the Webafrica billboard.
The second complainant said the advertiser makes it clear as to what the word “effing” should be.
He found it offensive and an invitation to children to use the implied word.
Webafrica responded, arguing “effing” is a commonly-used word, with the intention of avoiding the use of the actual, more profane word.
Webafrica said it has six billboards – three in Johannesburg and three in Cape Town – with the claim “effing fast Internet”, without any complaints.
It has also not received any complaints about its radio commercial.
“The radio advertisement is clearly saying it is not acceptable to use profane derivatives of effing,” said Webafrica.
Webafrica said it would black out the “Eff” on the billboards, so they read “ing Fast.”
The ASA was not convinced by Webafrica’s arguments, pointing out that advertising should not contain material which could cause children harm, or that it is acceptable to act in a manner generally regarded as unacceptable.
The claim “effing fast” is not suitable for children and contravenes the advertising code, it added.
It ordered Webafrica to remove the phrase from material children are likely to be exposed to.