Boost for New Zealand’s ‘middle finger’ health campaign | New Zealand

A New Zealand health campaign designed to help fight hepatitis C has hit a stumbling block after one of its adverts showing people raising their middle fingers was deemed too offensive to run.

Deputy Health Minister Ayesha Verrall launched the “Stick it to Hep C” campaign in July, to raise awareness of the virus, which kills around 200 New Zealanders a year.

The campaign included videos, outdoor posters and online material showing actors raising their middle fingers to another person while smiling. The advertising then goes on to show an actor getting his middle finger pricked for a blood test, to determine if he has the blood-borne virus.

But the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint describing the advertising images as “deeply offensive”.

“The gesture has long been established as ‘sign language’ for a series of very rude words, in short, ‘F*%$ You!'” the complainant said. display or where it can be seen by children.”

While the complaints commission agreed that those watching the ad were likely to understand that there is “an easy finger-prick test to find out if you’ve been exposed to hepatitis C and a new effective treatment, which means you can say ‘Fuck off’ to Hep C'”, the context would be missing for most people who were “likely to focus only on the hand gesture”.

An image from the ad showing a finger prick test for hepatitis C. Photo: Paste it on the Hepatitis C website

The gesture was “one of the most offensive gestures you can do to another person and still has negative connotations,” the board said, disagreeing with the announcer that the characters’ smiling faces mitigated any aggressive intent. .

He agreed that the ad used an indecent and offensive hand gesture and was a violation of the standards.

National Director of the Public Health Service, Nick Chamberlain, told the New Zealand Herald the decision was “regrettable”.

“We had no intention of causing serious or widespread offense with our choice of campaign imagery and it is unfortunate that the ASA considers that we did not strike the right balance on this occasion.”

The middle finger photo was removed from the main campaign image in favor of a double thumbs-up, but the YouTube clip remains online and the middle finger image is still present on the campaign website.

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