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Wimpy didn’t imply elderly black women are unhealthy by showing them eating burgers – ad regulator

Business Insider SA
A Wimpy advert depicting older women eating burgers.
A Wimpy advert depicting older women eating burgers.
  • Showing older black women eating burgers on TV does not mean they are unhealthy or that their wellness is compromised.
  • Wimpy’s latest advert showing older black stokvel women was blamed for being offensive.
  • But burgers can be deemed unhealthy for anyone, South Africa’s ad watchdog has ruled.
  • It said older adults are still adults who can practice their autonomy.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

An advert showing black older women eating burgers at Wimpy does not undermine their wellness or imply that they are unhealthy, according to South Africa’s Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB).

It said viewing the ad as such would be paternalistic and discriminatory and would equal policing older people's eating choices.

In a recent Wimpy advert promoting its Double Double Cheeseburger meal, a group of older black women from a stokvel appear seated around a table at a Wimpy restaurant. They pose for a picture with their mouths wide open and hands holding burgers about to devour them.

This image was the point of contention in the advert, which was blamed for being offensive towards black elderly women and for disregarding their wellness by depicting them having a meal considered unhealthy at their age. It also took issue with the fact that there were no other races in the ad.

The complaint suggested that the ad should have selected a healthier meal option to encourage wellness, especially for the elderly communities who may be living with chronic illnesses.

The advert opens with the group of black elderly women dressed in pink stokvel uniform t-shirts in what looks like a meeting setting.

A younger woman appears with an announcement to make about the stokvel. “Ladies Bambanani stokvel is going digital. Hashtag siyotrender (we are going to trend)”, she says, then assigns social media roles to each stokvel lady. Then they are eventually shown at the Wimpy restaurant.

In its argument, Wimpy said it does not specifically target older women in its ads, citing that its target audience is mostly younger people who frequent its restaurant.

It does, however, lean towards uniquely South African elements as a creative tool in its advertisements, hence its use of the stokvel.

“Other races are not depicted in the commercial as Stokvels are a unique tradition amongst a particular group of people,” the restaurant group said.

Although the women depicted are older, they are still adults entitled to their own nutritional choices, the ARB’s ruling stated.

“A double cheeseburger and chips is not the healthiest meal choice for anyone, but the fact that the ladies in the commercial are older does not mean that their eating should be policed,” it said.

The ARB’s Directorate agreed with Wimpy’s use of the stokvel to interpret a uniquely South African concept.

“The Directorate concurs with the Advertiser [Wimpy] that members of such groups are mostly middle-aged and older black South African women, or even men, not far from the age of the group depicted in the commercial, where the stokvel will also double up as a burial society,” it said.

“Given this, the choice of only black actors is not racial stereotyping but rather a depiction of a unique South African tradition amongst a particular group of people,” the Directorate said in its ruling.

Its interpretation of the adverts was an example of a stokvel on a fun outing with members sharing an affordable meal from their kitty.

It concluded that the women in the advert are not depicted negatively and said that although there was the use of stereotypes, it was not demeaning on either the basis of race or gender.

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