22 September 2011
The Finnish consumer ombudsman has asked CDON.com to pledge never to use violence again in its advertisements.
In two TV commercials, family members battled violently to get their hands on a package that had just arrived from CDON.com. For example, a girl pushed her brother to the ground, the mother hit her husband on the head with a frying pan, and he threw her over the dining table. Other members of the family calmly looked on.
In a third advert, a man carrying a CDON.com package was the victim of several traps laid by the rest of his family, like when a bowling ball came crashing down on him as he opened a door. At the end of the commercial, he was pulled up by a rope around his ankles to swing head down from the ceiling.
The advertisements suggested that CDON.com’s products made it perfectly acceptable to cause injury to other members of the family or show total indifference to the harm inflicted on them. The consumer ombudsman took the view that the advertisements offended human dignity and were therefore contrary to good practice in advertising and the Finnish Consumer Protection Act.
It was particularly reprehensible that the advertisements were shown on television before the TV watershed. Marketing which is aimed at or reaches minors is always judged more stringently than normal, because this group is more susceptible to its effects.
The commercials also sent out the wrong message concerning the sort of consequences that violence depicted in advertising can have. It may be difficult for small children to distinguish between the events in an advertisement and reality.
According to CDON.com, the advertisements try to use a style of imagery borrowed from movies to suggest that customers keenly await the products they have ordered from the company. The consumer ombudsman remarked that the advertiser could not just ignore the rules on good practice by pointing to the use of cinematic narrative or humour.
The ombudsman insisted that CDON.com should stop showing advertisements featuring violence that offended human dignity and should no longer use violence in its marketing in the future. CDON.com has pledged to honour the demands.