For those that don’t know, 26 January is celebrated in Australia as the inventively-named national holiday ‘Australia Day’, commemorating the arrival of the ‘First Fleet’ of British explorers in what was then known as New Holland in 1788.
The drive to promote events and sell products for this day could be compared to the Fourth of July in the USA, with many retailers looking to provide special offers in their attempts to sell party food and alcohol ahead of the celebratory day. One brand that might have less of a chance to do so, however, is Dick Smith Foods (owned by conglomerate Australian Dick Smith), after an attempted advert made to promote their food in a patriotic way was banned from being aired in prime-time on Australian TV.
Luckily for people who hate to see patriotism shot down by people who do not to ’cause offense’ to non-nationals, the advert was not banned through any anti-Australian conspiracy (even if it might be interpreted that way by some), rather the double-entendres used throughout the commercial, mostly a play on brand names of products and the name of company founder, 68-year-old entrepreneur Dick Smith (pictured), who also narrated the advert.
The 60-second clip saw him highlight his home-grown products with statements such as “chow down on my OzEnuts”, and getting customers and suppliers to say “I love Dick”. The advert was also under fire for its depiction of a group of immigrants scrambling onto shore with a burning shipwreck in the background, with the message that they illegally entered the country to get a taste of Dick Smith Foods, and surprisingly was suggested by producers as being the sole cause of the decision rather than the barrage of innuendos.
Smith (who was overseas on business) was reportedly furious when he learned that his advert had been given a ‘PG’ rating rather than a ‘G’ by the Commercials Advice Board (banning the ad from its intended spot during 6pm news broadcasts, which Dick Smith Foods paid AU$100,000 for), as he said in a text message to advert creator Dan Ilic: “It’s a total disaster. After six months of planning and tens of thousands I spent I just believe the ad has been rejected. The fun police have banned my harmless fun aust day ad. The day of the aussie larrikin is clearly over (sic).”
He later said of the commercial in an interview with News Ltd.: “I’m considering going to the High Court to get an injunction so they are forced to run it – I’m just very against censorship of any kind. The first time I saw it I was horrified. But I showed it to my staff who are mostly a lot younger and they thought it was great – they love Dick jokes. It’s all a bit of harmless fun but I may get a few calls from the refugee community – I think it’s light-hearted, it’s supposed to be tongue in cheek.”
Australian farmer Ed Fagan, who stars as himself in one of the “I love Dick” segments, also defended the ‘fun’ commercial that was banned by the ‘nanny state’, suggesting that the controversial humor could have been the plan of the company all along: “I can’t see anything wrong with a bit of fun. At the end of the day Dick doesn’t have the ad budget of the big companies who spend millions on ads. He relies on exposure for marketing. He’s been very smart in that nine out of 10 ten people in Australia would know about Dick Smith’s food ad, but he hasn’t actually paid for ad space yet. What he’s aiming to do is get people to eat Australian products. Dick’s the only one educating the Australian public about where their food comes from. A piss-take ad is not offensive. Anyone who finds it offensive should take a look at themselves and wonder if they’ve got a sense of humor, because it is funny.”
The controversial advert can be seen below (not as some sort of inflated parody, this was a genuinely-made commercial), and while the CAD regulators might have a point with stopping it from airing pre-watershed, the humor and slang used definitely lives up to Dick Smith Food’s ending tagline of ‘As Australian as you can get’: