A still from a Pudo video ad, via YouTube.
  • An advert that features the word "jir" – which could be misheard as "Jirre", sometimes used as a reference to Jesus in Afrikaans – has nothing to do with religion, SA’s ad regulator has said.
  • And even if it did, South Africa is a secular country, and advertisers would find it difficult to accommodate all religions, says the Advertising Regulatory Bureau.
  • Whether you say "jir" or "Jirre", you could just be expressing annoyance or irritation and not using God’s name in vain, it holds.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A Courier Guy advertisement featuring a woman using the word "jir", has nothing to do with religion, South Africa’s ad regulator has ruled, following a complaint that interpreted the phrase as using God’s name in vain.

In its ruling, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) said the word used in the ad was not an Afrikaans word that can refer to Jesus, "Jirre", but "jir", which is akin to other common expressions such as “Jislaaik”, commonly used to denote irritation, annoyance, or exasperation.

It said the commercial has no religious messaging, and does not express any views on religion, and said the dispute centred around the word “jirre” as the complainant hears it or “jir”, as Courier Guy claims to have phrased it, the ARB said.

In the radio advert for Courier Guy's Pudo lockers, a woman heard saying, “Immediate effect hey? Huh! Ja-né. So I’ve got my mom’s birthday present here in Kloofendal,”

“She’s mos innie Kaap! Now I must queue at the counter, to send it to her door, jirrr, queues are so 2019. No man!,” she’s heard exclaiming.

In the regulator’s view, the woman, who speaks in a recognisable Cape Town dialect and tone while using the "jir" phrase, only did so to indicate her dissatisfaction with queuing for parcels, when Pudo provides a contactless and convenient alternative.

It did not believe that the advert would cause widespread offence, whether the word "jir" or "Jirre" is used.

“The context of the commercial clearly juxtaposes the inconvenience of having to queue to send a package with the convenience of using the Advertiser’s [Courier Guy] service. The word 'Jir' (or 'Jirre') is used as an expression to indicate that the speaker regards this as ridiculous and unnecessary,” the advertising regulator said.

The directorate also says South Africa is a secular society with multiple religions.  

“Different religions have different rules, and it would be impossible for advertising to comply with all the rules for all the religions and sects thereof – this would require advertisers not to advertise pork products, not to show women with uncovered hair, and various other examples. It is not reasonable for a member of a particular religion to expect advertising to comply with all the rules of that religion,” the regulator said.

While "Jirre" may be used to reference God in some settings, the manner it is used does not express God in a negative view, it said.

“Listeners are unlikely to have their view of God altered as a result of hearing this commercial, and it is unlikely that a reasonable person who worships God would be encouraged to blaspheme as a result of hearing this commercial."

Pudo has previously released a "sense of humour" ad...

... in response to complaints about a different ad featuring a banana in a box.

See also | You can’t put a banana in a box while children may be watching, SA’s ad regulator rules

(Compiled by Ntando Thukwana)

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