Suzuki Marine 'missing Dad' ad gets the all-clear

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Complaints that ad causes distress to grieving families dismissed.

The Advertising Standards Board has dismissed complaints about a recent television advertisement from Suzuki Marine which features a father enjoying himself out on a boat while his family are left behind.

The commercial promotes Suzuki's Lean Burn technology which, according to the outboard manufacturer, enables boaters to stay “on the water longer”.

Several complainants objected to the ad on the grounds that it might cause distress to families who have lost a relative for whatever reason. Some of the comments included:

I object to this commercial for a few reasons. One, I believe it promotes or at least makes light of the serious situation families may be struggling with when one member of the family has abandoned them. Second, it would be highly distressing for children in this situation to see a commercial such as this and to think that his or her father or mother may be enjoying life much more without them around.

The commercial is upsetting because it portrays people who are suffering from a loss of a loved one but then shows a scene of the father enjoying himself. For anyone who has lost a family member who just didn't come home this would be insensitive.

In response, the Haines Group, distributors of Suzuki outboards, said the ad was designed to show boating in a positive light.

“Showing the family dog eating dad’s meal at the dinner table... was one way of injecting humour and our ‘larrikin’ nature into our TVC and at no time was any reference made to how long dad had actually been out – whether it was only a couple of hours, a day or a weekend.”

The company plans to run future ads in which the family as a whole will be seen boating together.

“By seeing the family in a follow up TVC, we hope TV viewers will see that the focus of our ad was always about having fun on your boat, and never to exploit or make light of anyone’s misfortune or circumstances."

In its ruling, the Advertising Standards Board said that “although the initial suggestion that Mike is dead is an unusual way to open an advertisement for a fuel efficiency system”, the ad also made it clear that the father is alive and enjoying his time out on the boat.

The board found that the commercial did not breach the Advertiser Code of Ethics and dismissed the complaints.

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