Nestle Australia pulls BBDO nose picking commercial

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SYDNEY -- TV viewers here, appalled by a Dutch-made, award-winning ice lolly commercial in which a man picks his nose, have complained so much that Nestle Australia has pulled it off air after only four days. The $75,000-a-day campaign was a major summer promotion by Peter's Ice Cream, a Nestle subsidiary.

The commercial, praised at Cannes last year, shows father, mother and two children sitting in the family car at traffic lights. As father picks his nose and flicks the result out the window the boy yells "It's green!" The man then accelerated through the intersection although the light is still red, and they crash. Switch to the punchline: the ice block in the boy's hand has a green top before he bites it to disclose a red layer.

Around 300 viewers immediately rang Nestle and Kerry Packer's Channel Nine network to complain, while the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations, which reviewed the commercial before it was screened, confirmed it had also received complaints.

Ruth Ward, head of FACTS' acceptance division, said "It's very hard to determine the question of taste because people have such diverse opinions. The federation sometimes suggests time slots or offers a guide on taste but ultimately it is up to the networks to decide -- at least all the people in the car are wearing seat belts."

"I do believe it's a humorous ad," says Herman Van Hummel, Nestle dairy general manager, "but not everyone appreciates it or considers it in good taste. I've instructed our agency [Clemenger BBDO] to take it off air and we'll talk about it."

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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