Meeting 10 December 2008
Complainant: I. Schloemer
Advertisement: New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association
Complaint: The magazine advertisement for the New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association was headed “NEED MORE HELP THIS DOCKING?” Below this heading
was a large picture, in the foreground of which was a woman in cropped shorts and
top, facing the camera. Behind her was a sheep that had just been docked, with its
rear end facing the camera, on its back in a docking bay. A man stood behind the
sheep. Text below the image said “Any further enquiry for your nearest Suffolk
breeder or to see whether Amber is available to help dock call…”
Complainant, I. Schloemer, said:
“Where: Country Wide publication for farmers
Who: suffolk breaders
Product: sheep and "docking services"
This ad has been upsetting me since I saw it the first time.
I am not a farming person, and I might not be in the picture of what is needed to run a
sheep farm. The docking might be necessary. And I am sure there are many sheep
which don't make it as they get an infection. If this is common practice I can't do
anything about it. But I feel that there is something deeply wrong with society if
advertisements like this one are passed as normal and nothing to worry about!
The sheep in such a position, the bloody stump left after the docking and the girl
offering her services.
How can one create and publish such a disgusting ad?
Where are the ethics in this country?
I have written an email expressing my disgust and concerns to the address which was
given on the website mentioned in the ad but had no reply so far.”
The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant:
Code of Ethics
Basic Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of
social responsibility to consumers and to society.
Rule 5: Offensiveness - Advertisements should not contain anything which in
the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or
widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and
product (including services).
The Advertiser, Suffolk NZ, said:
“I am the person involved In creating the advertising campaign for Suffolk NZ, with the
official complaint being laid in regards to the first advertisement of a series of three.
Code of Ethics - Rule 5 - Offensiveness - Advertisements should not contain anything
which is in the light of generally prevailing community standards Is likely to cause
serious or widespread offense taking Into account the context, medium, audience and
These ads have been running since September 2007 in Country Wide Publications,
publications that are aimed at the farming Industry, in particular farmers. Of the 27.3
million lambs that were born this year in New Zealand, the vast majority would have
had their tails removed in a similar way that was depicted in this ad. Farmers know this
reduces problems associated with dags and flystrike.
Anyone associated with farming would also realise that the sheep in question is at
least 10 months old - a lot older than the normal docking age of 1-2 months, and so no
act or animal discomfort actually took place.
For the reasons outlined by the complainant to my knowledge this advertisement has
not caused serious or widespread offence and therefore I would not regard this
advertisement as a breech in advertising standards.”
The Media, Countrywide Publications Ltd, said:
“On behalf of Country-Wide Publications Ltd, I would like to respond to the Advertising
Standards Authority (ASA) regarding the lodged complaint 08/582.
1. Country-Wide Northern is a farming publication that reports on farm
specific activities and topics that we class as “inside the farm gate".
2. The photo contained within the advertisement is depicting the procedure of
tail docking and ear marking for identification of young livestock - in this
instance lambs. This equipment used to restrain the animals is done so to
reduce the stress on the animal and to avoid self inflicted injury occurring
by a lack of restraint during the procedure. The procedure and equipment
are part of a general standardised practice that occurs on most sheep
farms in New Zealand every given year.
3. The advertisement itself was created by CPL Design (our in-house design
department) on instruction from the client using images and text supplied
by the client.
Please contact me directly through any of the mediums given below for any further
correspondence and discussion.”
The Complaints Board read carefully the relevant correspondence and
advertisement. It noted the view expressed by Complainant, I. Schloemer, that the
advertisement was offensive with regard to the image of the docked sheep and the
“girl offering her services”.
The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with
reference to the Code of Ethics, Basic Principle 4 and Rule 5.
In making its determination the Complaints Board was required to consider whether
the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to
consumers and to society as required by Basic Principle 4, and/or whether, in the light
of generally prevailing community standards, it was likely to cause serious or
widespread offence, taking into account the context, medium, audience and product,
as contained in Rule 5.
The Complaints Board then turned to the advertisement and noted the image of the
sheep on its back and the accompanying image of the woman. It accepted the
explanation from the Media which said that the sheep was being held in a piece of
equipment “used to restrain the animals…to reduce the stress on the animal and to
avoid self inflicted injury”.
The Complaints Board noted that the woman was dressed somewhat provocatively,
noting her cropped top and shorts. However it was of the view that the woman was
dressed relatively modestly by today‟s standards.
The Complaints Board then noted the context, medium, and audience of the
advertisement. It noted that it appeared in the „Country Wide‟ publication which, as
noted by the publication was “a farming publication that reports on farm specific
activities and topics that we class as „inside the farm gate‟”. The Complaints Board
noted that this publication would be read by farmers who were familiar and comfortable
with all practices of farm life. The Complaints Board considered that docking was one
of these practices.
Having made these observations the Complaints Board was of the view that the
advertisement was, taking into account the context, medium, audience and product,
unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, and accordingly ruled that it was not
in breach of Rule 5 of the Code of Ethics.
The majority of the Complaints Board were also of the view that the advertisement had
been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society and
accordingly said the advertisement was also not in breach of Basic Principle 4 of the
Code of Ethics.
A minority of the Complaints Board disagreed, saying that the image of the woman was
inappropriate and overly sexualised, and accordingly said that the advertisement was
in breach of Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics.
In accordance with the majority view, the Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the
Decision: Complaint Not Upheld