ASAI Ban ISPCC's 'I Can't Wait Until I Grow Up' because the abuser is a man

There's a bit of a cat-fight between the ASA Ireland and the ISPCC Ireland right now. The ASA upheld a complaint against the ISPCC's "when I grow up" on the grounds of - wait for it - gender inequality. Yes, the real problem in this world clearly is that the only adult abusing the little boy in the ad is his father, step father, uncle or other male person. Who complained about that?

Complainants objected to the advertisement on the basis that it was unbalanced in its treatment of the subject of abuse in the home. The advertisement only depicted a male as being the aggressor and the complainants considered this to be unbalanced.

The ISPCC soon sent this press release as a reply:

The ISPCC have produced this ad, on the back of Childline statistics, with the aim of highlighting the continuing abuse of children within Irish Society. The ISPCC are very disappointed with this decision and feel that the focus has been taken away from the real issue of child abuse.


ISPCC - I Can't wait until I grow up - (2011)

The ISPCC has been instructed to remove the video in its current format from all 'Irish Media'. This does not include Youtube.com, nor Adland.tv This detail put here for those commenting under the original ad post. We're an advertising news site, not a paid media space.

The ISPCC's full statement asks good questions.

The ISPCC is taken aback at the decision made by the Complaints Committee of the ASAI. The ISPCC believes that the campaign successfully tackles the very tough and sensitive issue of physical abuse in Ireland and while this may be unsettling to watch, it is a reality that should not be hidden in the shadows. Indeed the ASAI, in their report stated that the Complaints Committee “accepted that the level of violence portrayed while disturbing was realistic and that the primary message being conveyed in the advertising was the existence of this abuse.” The video makes no reference to physical abuse being carried out exclusively by either men or women or indeed by fathers or mothers. This advertisement does not focus on the adult; its focus is entirely on the child. Any attempt to focus on whether the adult is a male or female is clearly missing the point and purpose of the ad in the first instance.
The ISPCC has asked the ASAI two very direct questions:
1. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must feature a woman perpetrator?
2. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must be made on the double showing both a male and a female perpetrator? Child abuse should be a much bigger issue than this. Surely this is just stating the obvious?

The ASA Ireland responded to the ISPCC press release about their decision by dodging answering the questions (in public):

The ASAI has noted the questions posed by the ISPCC and the Chief Executive of the Authority, Mr. Frank Goodman, yesterday discussed the issue with a Senior Executive of the ISPCC and offered the Authority’s Copy Advice service. This service is available to all advertisers, agencies and media and is free, confidential and non-binding.
Finally the ASAI pointed out that in particular circumstances the ISPCC can apply for a review of the decision if they consider that any of the procedures involved were deficient or that the decision was made against the weight of evidence.

When Adfreak spoke to director Richie Smyth and Ogilvy creative director Colin Nimick about the ad we found out that the talented kid is not an actor but a 7-year-old taekwondo enthusiast who just happened to have serious acting chops as well. Each choice made in the ad, from the bookends to the lack of music adds to the gut-wrenching sadness we feel watching it.

Smyth considered a different ending, with the boy lying on the ground, but felt the quiet resilience of him pulling on his jacket "was just so poignant a moment."

Good call.

Unlike the ASA Ireland's. Unless of course they figured they were doing the ISPCC a favour here, we all know that "banned" ads travel the web forever and have many more views than those that are not. This will effectively give a great ad second wind on all the ad-blogs and maybe even HuffPo. Woo!

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (5)

  • wissler's picture
    wissler (not verified)

    Sep 27, 2011
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Oct 02, 2011
  • Sray's picture
    Sray (not verified)

    Sep 20, 2012

Leave a comment