• South Africa’s advertising regulator ruled a Doritos advert where a man sucks another’s finger is not sexual harassment. 
  • Complainants said the advertisement is “highly inappropriate” and amounts to workplace harassment. 
  • The regulator, however, said the advert is so over-the-top that no consumer would consider imitating it. 
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider South Africa.

A television advert where a man sucks another’s finger to taste the residue of Doritos chips is not sexual harassment, the South African Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ruled

The advert, first aired during the United States (US) Superbowl in 2011, shows a man in an office kitchen enjoying a packet of Doritos when another man asks him if he is going to finish the chips. 

“Sorry they are already gone,” the man replies. The second man quickly answers "No, they’re not - you left the best part,” and proceeds to suck his finger. After sucking the finger, the man says“, Mmmm, cheese.” 

Also read: Vodacom keeps changing the reason it claims to be SA’s best network – and an advertising regulator is getting tired of its games

In a second scene, the same man who sucked the finger, rips off a man’s pants after he ate Doritos and wiped his hands on it. After smelling the pants, the man yells “Doritos” in a high pitch. 

The commercial ends with the statement: “Doritos. For the Bold”.

Two South Africans complained that the advert amounted to workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and was “highly inappropriate”. 

But the ARB believed the advert did not show offensive behaviour, or condone sexual harassment.

Also read: A white man saying 'Maphumalanga' is not racist, according to the advertising authority

The ARB admitted that some viewers might find the commercial, particularly sucking a stranger’s fingers, to be in bad taste, but said it was not the “taste police”. 

“The actions are so unrealistic and over-the-top that no reasonable consumer would consider imitating the commercial,” the ARB said in its ruling. 

“In addition, the commercial makes it clear, from the character’s strange demeanour and the reactions that his colleagues have, that this behaviour is not acceptable, normal or desirable.”