Do you love Sex…..

February 19, 2014

Image

Love Sex Durex… not that is a tag line I like. Durex are sponsoring the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras this year and are embracing the promotion of same-sex relationships as part of the initiative.  They are not the only sponsors this year, other sponsors are ANZ (principle sponsor), SBS2 and 2day FM who are the broadcast partners and Fitness First, Air Asia, Google, Gaydar, Finlandia (it’s a vodka), as well as NSW NOW, Destination NSW, City of Sydney as strategic partners.

Not all partners are launching campaigns to tie in with their sponsorship, but Durex have taken the opportunity to do just that with their Durex Love Same Sex. It is primarily a social media campaign, which aims to focus on and celebrate the years of “love and commitment of long-term same-sex relationships in Australia”.

The brand is encouraging people in Australia that are in same-sex relationships to celebrate the number of years they have been in a relationship, they do this by visiting the Durex Australia Facebook page and pledge their years of commitment. There is a year counter on the Facebook page that tallies the total years all participating couples have been together, so far it stands at 4,345 years.

The brand was also present at Fair Day this year where they set up a booth and got over 3,500 couples to pledge there years of commitment, one such couple was Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster and her partner Virginia Edwards who celebrated seven years together.

This is a great fit with the Mardi Gras event and nice to see them doing this, but as mentioned before this is not new, brands have been targeting the LGBT communities more and more over the past decade, and especially around events such as these, as written about here before.

My love of sharks just got bigger

February 5, 2014

P1540236calypso_newI was just 4 years old when Jaws came out at the cinema, it is a movie I absolutely love and always have done. Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name it was to become the archetypal summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a turning point in motion picture history (it gave birth the Summer Blockbuster phenomenon). Jaws became the highest-grossing film in history at the time, and it was the most successful film of all time until Star Wars (another film many of you know I have a love of). It is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time, along with Star Wars, so you see I really do have good taste in movies…

Anyway, I digress, I know the movie does not exactly show sharks in a particularly good light but for some reason it sparked an interest in great white sharks that I have always had. For years I have dreamed of being in the water with them, it was on my proverbial bucket list as it were, well that was until this past weekend then I finally got to tick it off.

The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), also known as simply great white, white pointer or white shark  is mainly known for its size, with mature individuals growing up to 6.4 m (21 ft) in length. We went to Port Lincoln in South Australia to meet a few of these fellas and the largest one we saw was probably about 4.5m and as he glided majestically past our boat for the very first time I was reminded of this famous line from Jaws when Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody says “we’re going to need a bigger boat”, a phrase I used for much of the day.

It really was something to see them up close, there is something so serene and majestic about them, not viscous and evil as they are often portrayed. I thought I might be nervous when the time came to get into the water, even though I was going to be in a cage, but in fact I was excited. It was amazing to see them in their environment; they really are beautiful creatures if you take the time to appreciate them and not vilify them. As an experience it is up there with the time I went swimming with whale sharks.

They are estimated to live for as long as 70 years or more, and can accelerate to speeds that exceed 56 km/h (35 mph). Great white sharks have been deemed to be at high risk of extinction in the wild since 1996, living to a ripe old age of 70 or more is becoming harder and harder for them as overfishing and culling initiatives greatly reduce their numbers and life expectancy. I acknowledge that the very film that ignited my love of these creatures also gave them the image as “man eater” in the public mind. However, in Australia since 1791 there have only been 892 shark attacks of any kind, 217 of which were fatal.

I am more in awe of them now having been up close and personal, and I would highly recommend anyone to experience them. Long live the great white.

The films I saw at the movies in 2013…

January 8, 2014

Ok what with the Oscars nominations impending publication I thought I would jot down the movies I was last year. There were only 38 this year, that is 11 down on last year, well I have had a busy one!

Listed in chronological order of having been watched, and scored out of 5 where 5 is the highest score… A good year for me a few 5s in there and even one 5*

  1. Life of Pi = 5
  2. Jack Reacher = 3 ½
  3. The Impossible = 5
  4. The Hobbit = 5
  5. Hitchcock = 4 ½
  6. Paris Manhattan = 3
  7. Zero Dark 30 = 4 ½
  8. Flight = 4
  9. Django Unchained = 4 ½
  10. Lincoln = 4
  11. Les Miserables = 3
  12. Amour = 4
  13. I Give It a Year = 4
  14. Oblivion = 4 ½
  15. Rust & Bone = 5
  16. The Company You Keep = 5
  17. Star Trek, Into Darkness = 5
  18. Dead Man Down = 4
  19. Place Beyond The Pines = 4
  20. World War Z = 5
  21. Man of Steel = 4
  22. Happiness Never Comes Alone = 5
  23. This Is The End = 3
  24. Before Midnight = 4
  25. Now You See Me = 3 ½
  26. Elysium = 4
  27. Red Obsession = 3 ½
  28. Behind The Candelabra = 3 ½
  29. We’re The Millers = 3
  30. Gravity = 5*
  31. The Family = 3 ½
  32. Blue Jasmine = 4
  33. The Butler = 3 ½
  34. About Time = 4
  35. The Councillor = 2 ½
  36. The Hunger Games (2) = 4 ½
  37. Enough Said = 4
  38. American Hassle = 4

The Books I Read In 2013….

January 1, 2014

33 of them all up, which is two more than in 2012. If I had to recommend any overall it would be the trilogy by Hugh Howey, starting with Wool. If you like a good thriller/crime book then the books bt Stella Rimington are well worth a go.

Listed in chronological order of having been read, and scored out of 5 where 5 is the highest score. A few got close to the top marks, but no 5 this year:

  1. Wolf Hall by Hilary mantel = 4
  2. The Dinner by Herman Koch = 3
  3. Wool by Hugh Howey = 4
  4. No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by A.McCall-Smith = 3
  5. Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher = 3
  6. All That I Am by Anna Funder = 4
  7. Shift by Hugh Howey = 4
  8. Closure Limited by Max Brooks = 4
  9. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham = 3
  10. Devil in Disguise by Julian Clary = 2 ½
  11. Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg = 2
  12. The Rapture by Liz Jensen = 4
  13. The Rise and Fall of The House of Bo by John Garnaut = 3 ½
  14. Poppet by Mo Hayder = 4
  15. Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel = 4
  16. Secret Asset by Stella Rimington = 4
  17. Reclaiming Epicurus by Luke Slatergy = 3
  18. The City and The Pillar = Gore Vidal = 4
  19. The Olive Readers by Christine Aziz = 3
  20. Union Jack by Val McDermid = 3
  21. The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne = 3 ½
  22. At Risk by Stella Rimington = 4
  23. The Cuckoos’ Calling by Rpbert Gallbraith = 4 ½
  24. Dust by Hugh Howey = 4 ½
  25. Wrecked by Charlotte Roche = 3
  26. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green = 4
  27. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn = 4 ½
  28. Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas = 3
  29. Take Your Best Shot by Jacqueline Kent = 3
  30. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion = 4
  31. Dead Line by Stella Rimington = 4
  32. 1222 by Ann Holt = 3 ½
  33. Zoo by James Patterson = 2

2013 in review, not a bad year…

January 1, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Movember is surely the sexiest month of the year…

October 22, 2013

moJust 10 days to go before men all over the world let their facial hair grow for 30 hair-raising days and it is all for a very good cause, yes Movember is almost upon us. Mine will be one of  millions of moustaches around the world that will be scaring small children and reminding us that porn stars of the 1970’s were real men with real hair (unlike the shaved and waxed all over men of porn today, allegedly, I never watch the stuff), this picture is from my last effort.

But it is not all just for a spot of office ridicule, no the Mo has a job to do, those growing the Mo will also be raising vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. In 2012, over 1.1 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world joined the movement, raising AUS $141.5 million. I have joined together with a few work mates to form The Jigsaw Crumb Catchers team and if you would like to sponsor us you can do so here:

http://au.movember.com/mospace/6764325

I have written about my love of facial hair and Movember before, but for those of you that don’t know, on the 1st of Movember we start off with a clean-shaven face start our Mo growing journey. Then for the entire month, we become walking, talking billboards for 30 days. Through our growing efforts we raise awareness for the often ignored issues of men’s health, by prompting conversations wherever we go, I will get strangers talking about it, trust me.

Movember’s not just for men. The women of Movember are known as Mo Sistas. They play a vital role in the success of Movember by supporting and encouraging the men in their life to get involved. Mo Sistas also get involved by signing up at Movember.com, and participate by raising funds and awareness themselves.

Suicide takes way too many lives and damages those left behind…

September 26, 2013

September the 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), this initiative was launched back in 2003 and every year on this day there are now various events, conferences, campaigns and local activities in several countries all held to call public attention to one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary deaths.

Having lost my best friend to suicide when I was in my early 20’s, and he just a year younger than I, this is an issue that has always been both upsetting and challenging to me. And alas it is an issue that if anything has gotten worse over the years not better. One awful side effect of suicide is the stigma that goes with it, friends and family find it hard to deal with and often feel they ought to have known something. They grapple with the guilt that they may have been able to prevent the death of their loved one in the first place, and this is what feeds the stigma and makes it hard for them to deal with their loss and grieve in a way that others might who have lost someone that was not to suicide. It took me years to deal with these issues and I still think of my friend and what he would be doing with his life were he still here, and indeed what he would make of some of the choices I have made in my life over the 20 years since he died.

It is his birthday in a couple of weeks and I’ll be sure to have a drink in his honour as I always do and visit a church to light a candle for him, something I know his catholic mother would appreciate.

Some facts that you might not know are that here in Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 44 and for women under the age of 34. In addition suicides take more lives each year than car accidents or skin cancer. So much is done to combat skin cancer here in Australia and the number of public health messages relating to this is great, but very few deal with the issue of suicide, maybe it’s time our government did more to address this issue rather than spending millions of dollars on ads trying to scare refuges off from coming to Australia (but that’s a whole other post).

Not a happy blog post I know, but one from the heart.

RIP Sir David Paradine Frost

September 2, 2013

davidFrom my own county, David Frost was born in Tenterden Kent, in 1939, so a bit before me. I spent a very unhappy year living in Gillingham and went to hear him speak at the local grammar school which he attended as a child before going on to Cambridge University. I can’t really remember what the talk was about now (it was more than 20 years ago) but I do remember that listening to him talk made me want to do something with my life other than live in a bedsit and work in McDonald’s which was what I was doing at the time.

Back then I knew him primarily as the host on Through the Keyhole, and still recall his voice saying “who lives in a house like this”, his co-host was Loyd Grossman who went on to sell condiments!!!

Anyway, what I did not know at the time was that he had been such a successful journalist and TV producer (he was one of the original founders and owner of London Weekend Television). In 1977, he did the The Nixon Interviews, a series of five 90-minute interviews with former US President Richard Nixon. Nixon was paid $600,000 plus a share of the profits for the interviews, which Frost funded himself after the US television networks refused to do so calling them “chequebook journalism” (og how things have changed).

Frost was also the only person to have interviewed all eight British prime ministers serving between 1964 and 2010 (Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron) and all seven US presidents in office between 1969 and 2008 (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

And after the 1979 Iranian Revolution Frost was the last person to interview Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

These are but a handful of his achievements, sad to see such an accomplished talent come to an end.

What do Greenpeace, Virgin Atlantic, Nestle, IKEA and Nike all have in common?

July 30, 2013

ImageWell in the past year they have all pushed the sustainability agenda in a variety of ways. The recent activity here in Australia by Greenpeace targeting Coca-Cola in its latest campaign put sustainability issues back on the radar; their ad was “a call-to-action for Australia’s” as they put it.

Any effort by a brand to promote sustainability or to be more sustainable should be applauded, but it does not always have to be so controversial, not saying we don’t like controversy mind you.

Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic announced that fashion designer Vivienne Westwood would be the new mastermind behind their uniform makeover for staff across the airline’s entire fleet. And this initiative is not a flash in the pan one, it is a ten-year collaboration which focuses on sustainability, with uniforms manufactured from recycled materials, including polyester yarn made from plastic bottles, the uniforms will be rolled out by the end of 2013.

As a researcher I have done a lot of work on coffee brands (and I always need a good caffeine fix to get the day going), and so for me it is particularly good to see brands such as Nespresso pledging to buy more coffee from sustainable plantations and Nestle, the brand owner and leader in the single-serve coffee market, is bringing its sustainability program to Ethiopia and Kenya, forming an advisory board comprised of Fairtrade International and Rainforest Alliance members—and George Clooney (now that is something we would like to work on as researchers).

Nespresso has beaten its goal of sourcing 80% of its coffee through the company’s 10 year-old AAA sustainability program, so next time you pop a pod think of the good you are doing.

And as a keen shopper and fan of IKEA which is one of if not the largest global user of wood, consuming an estimated 1% of the world’s supply annually (according to the Daily Mail) to stock its 300 odd stores around the world, it is good to see they are doing something about it. In 2012, for example, IKEA started using corrugated cardboard pallets instead of wooden ones. But more importantly in its last annual Sustainability Report, Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard says the company has “a long-term sustainable supply of wood” and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood that supports the improvement of forest management. According to Howard, “all our wood is sourced from suppliers that meet our forestry standards and in FY12, 22.6% of our wood was from forests certified by the FSC.”

Nike as part of its corporate responsibility has “a commitment to making a Better World” and as such is determined to produce more environmentally conscious, and sustainably innovative, products. And they are trying to get others to do the same, in order to do this they have released an app called “Making” which helps both designers and consumers decide what source materials are the most environmentally responsible. The app “ranks materials used in apparel manufacturing in terms of the use of water, types of chemistry, amount of energy and the levels of waste required during production,”.

As a researcher I love projects that help brands move forward on sustainability programs so these initiatives are great to see, but I wonder what more can be done to get the man on the street involved in these, so that they don’t remain just lofty ideas but result in real action.

This post was originally written for the Jigsaw Blog

Put down that drink and open your wallet….

June 19, 2013

dj-logoHaving just had a holiday on which a little too much alcohol may or may not have been consumed, I have decided to participate in Dry July. No this does not mean that I will go without bathing for the whole of July, it’s far more challenging than that, I am going to go without drinking alcohol for the month of July.

Dry July is an organisation that aims to improve the lives of adults living with cancer through an online social community of likeminded individuals giving up booze for the month of July (and raising money as they do it). So for the 31 days of July, yes count them 31 days, I am hoping to raise funds while abstaining.

I have chosen The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA as my chosen beneficiary for all the money I raise. Professor Chris O’Brien was an incredible man who had tremendous vision and courage.  He was inspirational in both the work he did as a cancer specialist and through his own three year battle with an aggressive brain tumour, alas he lost his battle against cancer in 2009.

Chris’s vision was for an integrated cancer treatment centre so that patients would no longer have to navigate their way through all the different elements of dealing with their illness alone. His vision will be realised with the completion of The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA in 2013, more of which you can read about here: http://www.lifehouserpa.org.au/The_Chris_O_Brien_Lifehouse_at_RPA.aspx

If you would like to sponsor me you can do so here: https://au.dryjuly.com/profile/colinmacarthur or you could always take part yourself ;-)

Sustainable fishing and organic….

May 21, 2013

fish4ever-1354713337_600Some of you may recall a previous post of mine where I praised the local supermarkets for their claim that they would be sourcing fish on a sustainable basis. Well sad to say I still struggle to see such products in Woolworths or Coles, however Harris Farm continue to do so and in fact have increased the choice of products on shelf.

The brand that I have been buying of late is Fish4Ever, I love the fact that this brand is proud to have the smallest boat in the global tuna industry, just think about what it means to say this…

It means they are not over fishing and are truly being more sustainable minded.

They promise the consumer that they have good sourcing practices, from the fishing itself all the way through to the people that produce it and the communities impacted. And not only that but it is all organic to boot, and organic foods are something we should all try to buy, something else that I have written about in the past.

Organic food is natural, not only that, it is more often than not of a higher quality because of the production and ingredient standards required. In addition to this it is free from artificial additives and colouring. Many of the enzymes, fillers and processes allowed for conventional products are not allowed in organic production. Oh and did you know organic food is GM free and does not use irradiation. And on top of that organic farming bans the use of antibiotics and the vast majority of pesticides, fungicides and other chemical treatments, which can sometimes end up as residues in the foods we eat.

Anyway, Fish4Ever have been delivering a sustainable business model since 2001. But it’s not just about the sea — it’s also about the people that do the fishing and their local communities. As they put it, “Traditional fishing communities are the guardians of the sea” and they live by this motto and take action as a brand by campaigning for better fishing, oh and they produce bloody nice food.

Fond memories of Hull

May 6, 2013

ImageHull City have been promoted to the Premier League in what can only be described as a rollercoaster ninety minutes, Tigers fans I rejoice for you all. I have a soft spot for Hull having gone to the University of Hull, which by the way was founded in 1927.

I went a little more recently than that mind you. I was lucky enough to have be tutored by Baron Norton of Louth who is often described as “the United Kingdom’s greatest living expert on Parliament” and “a world authority on constitutional issues” he continues to inspire me to engage in politics to this day.

A little about the place….

The town of Hull was founded late in the 12th century. The monks of Meaux Abbey needed a port where the wool from their estates could be exported. It was an early theatre of battle in the English Civil Wars. Its 18th-century Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, played a key role in the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. And it suffered heavy damage during the Second World War from the Blitz.

It is officially called, Kingston upon Hull, and it stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea. The Humber Bridge, which provides road links to destinations south of the Humber, was built between 1972 and 1981, and at the time was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world. It is now fifth on the list.

Unlike many other English cities, Hull has no cathedral. It is in the Diocese of York and has a Suffragan bishop. However, Hull’s Holy Trinity Church is the largest parish church in England. It does have a Bishop mind and The Rt Rev Richard Frith, who was also very pleased with the local football team.

The city is unique in the UK in having had a municipally owned telephone system from 1902, sporting white, not red, telephone boxes. It remains the only locally operated telephone company in the UK, although it is now privatised.

In my time there I saw many a play written by John Godber at The Hull Truck Theatre and got into the poetry of Philip Larkin, the University Librarian between 1955-1985, again before my time, honest.

Anyway, well done Tigers, your victory made me think of happy times and it was nice to reminisce…. 

Remembering those that have fallen on ANZAC Day

April 24, 2013

ImageOk, yesterday I wrote about Saint George’s Day but being a citizen of both the UK and Australia I felt I could not let ANZAC Day pass unmentioned. For those of you not aware tomorrow (25th April) is Anzac Day, it is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and a public holiday in Australia, unlike Saint George’s Day in England. It started as a day to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire (now modern day Turkey) during World War I. However, today it more broadly commemorates all those who served and died in all military operations for their countries.

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, Winston Churchill’s grand plan was that they were to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The overall objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk, who went on to become Turkey’s first President, bot more on him later). What had been planned as a daring strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a deadlock, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties.

The Dawn Service on ANZAC Day has become a major tradition, and the first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Thousands of Australians make a pilgrimage to the site of the battle in Turkey every year for the dawn service held there. The name “ANZAC Cove” was officially recognised by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial in Canberra:

“Those heroes that shed their blood

And lost their lives.

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies

And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side

Here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers,

Who sent their sons from far away countries

Wipe away your tears,

Your sons are now lying in our bosom

And are in peace

After having lost their lives on this land they have

Become our sons as well.”

Why I am wearing my England top today…..

April 23, 2013

ImageSaint George’s Day is the feast day of Saint George, and although I am wearing my England football top in honour of the day it is actually not just a day for the English. It is celebrated by various Christian churches and by the several nations of which Saint George is the patron saint. Countries that celebrate St George’s Day include England, Canada, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Macedonia.

Saint George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in AD 303. By coincidence it is also my Uncle’s birthday (Happy birthday Uncle Clive). The earliest documented mention of St George in England comes from the venerable Bede (c. 673–735). He is also mentioned in ninth-century liturgy used at Durham Cathedral.  The will of Alfred the Great is said to refer to the saint, in a reference to the church of Fordington, Dorset. One of my sons has Alfred as a middle name, but this is just a happy coincidence.

In 1222 The Synod of Oxford declared St. George’s Day a feast day in the kingdom of England and  Edward III (1327–1377) put his Order of the Garter (founded c. 1348) under the banner of St. George. This order is still the foremost order of knighthood in England and St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle was built by Edward IV and Henry VII in honour of the order. The badge of the Order shows Saint George on horseback slaying the dragon.

In his play Henry V, William Shakespeare famously invokes the Saint prior to the battle of Agincourt (1415) “Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

St George’s Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century. The Cross of St George was flown in 1497 by John Cabot on his voyage to discover Newfoundland and later by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1620 it was the flag that was flown by the Mayflower when the Pilgrim Fathers arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. My relatives own Mayflower Engineering in Sheffield, that has the Mayflower ship as its logo, another happy coincidence.

The tradition of celebration St George’s day had waned by the end of the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland. In recent years the popularity of St George’s Day appears to be increasing, slowly but surely. The Conservative MP, Andrew Rosindell, has raised the issues in the House of Commons to make St George’s Day a public holiday and Mayor of London Boris Johnson encourages the celebration of St George’s Day.

A traditional custom on St George’s day was to wear a red rose in one’s lapel, however I could not find one this morning when getting dressed, so put my England football top on instead. Enjoy the day.

Did gay ad prompt Queensland Government to call an unnecessary inquiry?

April 17, 2013

Image

Does Queensland need tighter regulation of outdoor media? The industry stats would indicate that currently there is no evidence to suggest so. Last year there were 3,640 complaints submitted across all media to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) of these only 5%, yes 5% related to outdoor advertising.

However, bowing to pressure from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) the Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has announced an inquiry that will examine if new laws and classifications are needed to crack down on sexually explicit material on billboards.

Some background to why the ACL has put the pressure on the Queensland Government, last year the Queensland Association of Healthy Communities launched the ‘Rip and Roll’ campaign (pictured) which featured a homosexual couple. This ad is about promoting safe sex, but the Australian Christian Lobby found it far to offensive and took action, they put pressure on Adshel (the company that carried the ads on their sites) to remove them, and unfortunately they did. They then had to make an embarrassing u-turn and reinstated them following a barrage of criticism for having done so.

What was refreshing was at the time, Goa Billboards refused to remove the messaging and instead countered the pressure they got from ACL with digital ads displaying the message “Our God loves everyone gay & straight”.

What is more the ASB later dismissed all complaints about the “sexual nature” of the campaign and found it did not break any advertising or marketing codes of ethics.

Clearly the ACL are not happy at the fact that they were so robustly defeated in their attempts at censorship, but alas they may have the last laugh. After receiving a petition from the ACL recently the Attorney-General said “It is difficult to avoid outdoor advertising in everyday life and such advertising can be seen by children, with no ability for parents to restrict access if it is inappropriate,” he went on to say “Whatever regulation is in place, we need a system that when complaints are made, adequate action is taken. I don’t think that is happening at the moment” this could almost be the ACL speaking.

Alina Bain, CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, said there is no evidence that the current self-regulatory system is not working, and pointed out that “advertising works on a national level so to expect an advertiser to have one billboard for Queensland and another for the rest of the country is plainly absurd,” .

What is more the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has also hit back at the Queensland Government’s probe into the regulation of outdoor advertising, branding it “redundant” and “absurd” and their chief executive, Charmaine Moldrich, questioned the need for the review saying “the facts speak for themselves. There were no nation-wide complaints, in the area of sex, sexuality and nudity upheld against OMA members in 2012.”

So why this inquiry? Where is the evidence that one is even needed? And is this ad featured here really so offensive in its own right to justify such an inquiry?


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