A little victory for common sense emerged yesterday. A sanity-restoring course correction from one our overlords. The all-powerful thought police at the Advertising Standards Authority. You will recall the ridicule that greeted their decision that snuffed out a Whangarei dairy’s advertising billboard, Ice Cream makes you happy. A staple slogan for Streets Icecream, for quite some time. But the ASA ordered the sign to be taken down immediately.
The humourless reprimand by these watch-dogs was rightly pilloried, by a startled nation. Why they decided to dignify this complaint from some sad sack resident, let alone uphold it, was a classic case of tut-tuttery on overdrive. They over-reached, pouncing on the seemingly offensive billboard, and the unsuspecting dairy, as if the store was advertising meth makes you happy. The billboard had happily adorned the Tui Crescent Foodmarket for five years, before one militant curmudgeon decided to take aim. A nameless foot soldier on the frontlines of outrage-culture.
As it was, I happened to be in Australia later that same week, where you see those Streets billboards everywhere. Whenever I mentioned to Aussies in my midst that the billboard in question had been sin-binned in New Zealand, no one took me seriously. They could not believe it.
I still can’t believe it either, that the ASA thought we are such a pack of impressionable, unblinking drongos, we needed to be saved from concluding that binge ice-cream consumption is the only true path to eternal happiness. With a straight-face and pursed lips, the ASA ruled that the sign could undermine our health and our well-being.
Thankfully, these busy bodies and their unbelievable brain explosion has been put to rights.
Streets Ice Cream kicked the decision upstairs to the Advertising Standards Authority’s Appeal Board, who have come to their senses. Their decision reads, "The idea that having an occasional ice cream can make you happy fits appropriately with the concept of a treat food.” You don’t say.
But it still remains troubling that the miscreants and the vexatious are accorded the time of day by supposedly level-headed bodies. Send them packing. Give them a poke. By Hokey.