Egypt's Consumer Protection Agency suspends four controversial TV ads

Ahram Online , Sunday 12 Jun 2016

The four TV ads were pulled from the air after spurring widespread complaints

Juhayna ad
A screenshot from the controversial Juhayna Diary ad (Photo:Ahram Online)

Egypt's Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) suspended Sunday four Egyptian TV ads for violating Egyptian traditions and customs as well public morality after they received a lot of complaints.

The CPA suspended the ads of Juhayna Dairy, Dice Underwear, Cottonil and Ahram Beverages from broadcast on Egyptian TV channels.

"The first ad for Juhayna Dairy included sexual innuendos in addition to the use of children in violation of the standard specifications for ads. It also promoted false information that the company milk was better than breast milk," said the statement of the CPA about one suspended ad.

Juhayna Dairy's ad about its new line of milk directed at toddlers went viral since its broadcast on TV channels a week ago.

The ad that featured talking babies earned both admiration and criticism. In one part of the ad, a talking toddler speaks about how he misses "breast milk," referring to it as "Dondoo," whereas the other toddlers mock him.

The term "Dondoo" went viral online, trending for days on both Twitter and Facebook, where some anti-sexual harassment activists criticised the ad, saying that it would increase verbal sexual harassment in the street.

Pediatricians also criticised the ad, saying that it encouraged mothers to abandon natural breast milk for toddlers and replace it with animal milk at a very early age.

According to King Tut's Playground advertising agency creative director Ashraf Badawy, there was no intention of any sexual innuendo.

"What we were actually referring to, using the word [Dondoo], was the mother, but suddenly the term was twisted into something else that was not our intention," Badawy told Ahram Online, adding that the ad was approved by Egypt's censorship authority before its broadcast.

Badawy also said the ad did not encourage or promote cow milk over breast milk in early age.

"The toddlers in the ad are already were older than babies that still rely on breast milk," he said, refuting criticism about the ad.

Mohamed Hamdalla, founder of the agency, told Ahram Online that the ad included a disclaimer at the end that breast milk came first before any other milk.

He also revealed that the controversial "Dondoo" ad was already pulled from air five days after its broadcast, according to the plan of Juhayna's TV ad campaign for Ramadan, as there are other TV ads in the campaign.  

"The second ad for Ahram Beverage's Birell shows a young man peeking at the private parts of another young man at a public bathroom in a way that violates the public morals of society" said the statement of the CPA.

Ahram Beverage's Birell ad campaigns was also produced by King Tut's Playground. According to the agency's executives, they did not intend to offend anyone and it was more of a social awareness campaign about rejected behaviour among men. 

The CPA also suspended the ad of Cottonil men's underwear for including direct "sexual innuendos." The CPA also accused the ad, produced by Nile Production Advertising agency, of promoting a violation of law as it depicts a family of four riding a motorcycle without helmets.

The Cottonil ad drew criticism in depicting a group of women squatting while the ad narrator says "Oh" in amazement.

Dice underwear ad was also suspended by the CPA for depicting a woman wearing underwear only and including several sexual innuendos that encourage and justify marital infidelity.

In the ad, a married wife complains to her psychiatrist about how she could tolerate anything in relationship with her husband, even infidelity, yet he brought to her underwear from a competitor brand.

According to the head of the CPA, the companies were notified of the suspension order as well the violations and they were given 24 hours to pull the ads from TV channels.

As TV viewership hits highs in the Egypt during the holy month of Ramadan, companies race to produce catchy campaigns. Many advertisers consider the whole month as primetime season where the price of a 60-second ad can reach to tens of thousands in specific slots.

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