It's a reality that some employees tend to neglect their work duties to check up on their social media, stream videos, or even squeeze in a computer game during working hours.
This was the finding of the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) in its ruling on whether a Showmax advert depicting such behaviour – albeit with some extra spice – is offensive or not.
The commercial by Multichoice (owners of Showmax) shows a call centre employee who is so captivated by the video on his phone that he starts wreaking havoc in the office. He eats his colleague's sandwich, dances around the office, and even triggers an alarm.
The ad is part of a "Zero Bucks Given" promotions, which allows Vodacom customers who add Showmax to their bill to get three months' Showmax as well as 15GB of data.
Consumer Piet Nienaber found the ad (which is currently gaining traction and positive comments on YouTube with over 420,000 views) offensive.
He said it portrays "a complete disrespect for the employee's work environment and fellow workers". Also, Nienaber said, young people will "get the wrong impression of how to behave at work".
For its part, Multichoice says the ad satirises how a person with zero concerns could act in the workplace.
"It is clear from the reaction from his colleagues that his behaviour is destructive to the work environment. Not a single employee is looking at him approvingly," the company said in its answer to the complaint.
"The premise of the commercial is that a star employee is captivated watching Showmax using the zero bucks benefit to such an extent that they neglect their work duties to humorous effect," Multichoice said.
It's not the first time the ads regulator received a complaint about an ad depicting workplace conduct.
In a 2018 ruling, the ARB found that a KFC ad portraying civil servants enjoying fried chicken while a long line of frustrated people waited to be help was clearly "set humorously".
Based on the KFC ruling among other considerations, the ARB dismissed the Showmax complaint.
"It is a reality that some employees tend to neglect their work duties by chatting on social media on their cellular phones or playing computer games at work. This is used in an exaggerated manner in the commercial to humorous effect. It is clear that the conduct of the star performer is highly exaggerated and humorous.
"However, given how over-the-top the commercial is, the Directorate is convinced that no child watching the commercial would take it as a literal portrayal of how one should act in the workplace, but rather as a portrayal of bad behaviour in the workplace."
* Showmax is a Naspers company. Business Insider South Africa is a part of 24.com, a division of Media24. Media24 is a Naspers company.
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