WATCH | Ad watchdog gives finger-licking, pants-sniffing Doritos advert the thumbs up
Doritos believes it is for the bold, and it seems that so are its ads.
Thato Serapelo and Kevin Harvey complained to the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), about a TV ad for the product.
The advert plays out over two scenes in an office. In the first scene a man is enjoying a packet of Doritos in the kitchen. As he is about to finish the packet, a second man appears and asks: "Hey, are you gonna finish those?"
First man: "Sorry, they're already gone."
Second man: "No, they're not. You left the best part."
First man starts saying: "No, I am pretty sure they're..."
Then the second man grabs the first man's hand, sucks his finger and says: "Mmm. Cheese. Hello, Doritos."
In the second scene a man is enjoying a packet of Doritos in the office and wipes his hands on his pants. The same man who sucked the other one's finger appears, rips the third man's pants off, sniffs them and says: "Doritos."
The ad ends with the statement: "Doritos. For the Bold."
Serapelo complained that the man's conduct is harassment, including sexual harassment, in the workplace.
"The second complainant [Harvey] submitted that sucking another man's finger and going into ecstasy is highly inappropriate," ARB noted in its ruling.
Doritos said it was an international advert and that no regulatory body elsewhere has banned it. Doritos added that during test screenings South Africans "enjoyed the commercial, particularly for its humorous nature".
"The commercial is lighthearted and should not be taken literally, and one cannot reasonably interpret the commercial as condoning or promoting harassment in the workplace, or inappropriate behaviour. The scenarios in the commercial are clearly over the top."
ARB dismissed the complaint on May 9 and said it is not the “taste police”.
"It is unrealistic that a colleague could or would openly suck one’s fingers or rip one's pants off for Dorito crumbs as shown in the commercial. The manner in which these actions are depicted is clearly unrealistic and over the top… The commercial is clearly intended to be taken humorously and not literally," the ARB said.
"While it is arguable that if the depicted actions were to actually happen in real life, depending on the circumstances, it would amount to sexual harassment, the actions are so unrealistic and over-the-top that no reasonable consumer would consider imitating the commercial. 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."