Is This Ad Racist?


The New Zealand Chinese Association and others complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about AA Smartfuel television, radio and online advertisement, saying it was discriminating and racist.

The ad features a man called Edward who is a taxi driver and uses the AA Smartfuel card to get discounts on petrol.

The New Zealand Chinese Association said Edward was depicted as an Asian man in New Zealand who cannot speak ‘proper’ English and was in a low-skilled occupation.

“As a result, this advertisement is likely to contribute to discriminatory attitudes towards Asian people,” the complaint said…

The board acknowledged the offence caused to the complainants but did not uphold the complaints.” source NZ Herald

We think the ad perpetuates and entrenches racial stereotypes, it also makes fun of a racial minority (try to imagine this ad with a Maori or Samoan taxi driver)  but apparently this is ok in New Zealand. What do you think?

Would a similar ad be shown in the UK, Australia, or the US and be accepted?

You may also be interested in

Race relations commission calls on New Zealand to stop demonising migrants (NZ Herald, Aug 2015)

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has called for New Zealanders to stop demonising migrants and show leadership in race relations.

“Migrants are not new to this country but treating migrants and ethnic minorities with respect is something we must get better at,” said Dame Susan, who claimed she too came from a family of migrants… read on

Everyday Racism in NZ: Maori Dislike Asian Migrants “Undermining” NZ’s Bi-cultural ‘Investment’ (May 2014)

Further proof from the NZ press today of the layers of racism that pervade New Zealand’s society, and that the concept of multi-culturalism is dead-in-the-water in the youngest country on earth.

A new poll shows “Maori dislike Asian immigrants more than any other group of New Zealanders” and they blame them for taking jobs, driving Maori to Australia and not not showing due reverence to the much maligned Treaty of Waitangi.

Massey University’s pro vice-chancellor, Professor Paul Spoonley said:

“The diversity of New Zealand is beginning to undermine the investment we have in biculturalism. [Maori] don’t believe new migrants are sympathetic to biculturalism and the Treaty…surveys show Maori have an increasingly negative perception of Asians. It is caused by “competition in the labour market . . . and competition for cultural resources”

Maybe that’s because in most highly developed ‘first world’ countries, very few people favour bi-culturalism over multi-culturalism?… read on

19 thoughts on “Is This Ad Racist?

  1. 24 hours ago I commented on an article in the NZ Herald where the writer claimed that NZ was far superior to Oz in race relations, I suggested that any New Zealander who felt smugly superior should visit E2NZ. So far it my comment hasn’t appeared.

  2. Here’s the thing:
    Does New Zealand have a problem casting advertising talent that is ethnic AND properly qualified or experienced to fluently speak English?
    It seems that such a depiction might be threatening to some people – which is why depictions from times gone by or “people fresh off the boat” are used.

    I suppose the usual non-apology apology will be issued “sorry YOU find it offensive”.

  3. There’s nothing wrong with people living in NZ who speak little to no English. I don’t see why this bothers anyone. I’ve seen many idiotic kiwis get angry about this, as if it offends them personally.

    • Perhaps the Kiwis should start by learning their own language properly before moving on to a foreign language. I recall the numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes I would find in official documents or communiques annoying me.

      • Lots of that in the universities too …
        by people majoring in “Mass Communication” and “The Humanities”.
        Oh, the humanity 🙂

  4. The ad is fine. Why on earth does everything have to always be politically correct. Always bowing down to minorities or immigrants. If they can’t take a joke then move along.. Most of the Indians and Chinese i come across here can barely speak English especially the Chinese who don’t even bother to try and understand someone. Usually they are rude and inconsiderate!

    • @ Dave It is important to be politically correct, because if you aren’t then you shall always be reminded of the burden of ‘shame’ that you carry, from the acts of your forefathers who literally robbed far flung lands from the natives, hijacked the local culture and carried mass genocides. Prove me if you feel that i am incorrect.

      • @ Ray , I won’t bother given you a proper response. Just a waste of my energy really. Sorry!

        @ Vigilante, you probably automatically assume I am white racist from SA. I am not, folks are African and European….. Funny how whites are always labelled racist, but other nationalities seem to get away from it. Blacks and the Chinese are SOME of most racist people i have met on my journeys around the world. That is not to say that I have not met a few whites either. It happens and it always will. Part of life and I deal with it one way or another.. The liberal PC media knows how to keep the masses brainwashed…Anyway, so where does that leave me, people can never quite place me, i am classified as coloured in SA. Black in the USA and here i am labelled as Polynesian or Arab. My point is that majority of Chinese that i have met here in NZ are rude and inconsiderate. Stop getting emotional or upset about a pathetic ad. Deal with it and move one. It is what it is, funny or not. It is not racist!

        On a slightly different point, I often believe that the world runs according to selfishness and is driven completely by greed, power and money. The human psyche is flawed! Everyone’s morality is hard wired differently and for that reason people will always agree to disagree on many sensitive issues. I see the bigger picture with regards to us human beings….in the greater scheme of things or in the context of the universe, human beings are merely a cancer on this planet, we move to an area and multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way we can survive is to spread to another area. Humans are like mosquitoes. We serve no purpose other than to extend our lineage while irritating other animals and endangering ecosystems.

        People would rather go on living in their elaborate delusions that their life actually means something, then face the crippling reality that everything, and I mean everything, you do is utterly pointless. You will die and so will i. You will be forgotten. In a hundred, or even a thousand years of time, there will likely not even be a trace that you ever existed. Furthermore, there is no God. “God” is a copout people use because they don’t want to face the inherent futility of the human existential condition. They reason that even if they can’t find the reason behind existence, there is some mystical being that truly knows the reason, and that can endow the universe with some supernaturally ascribed purpose. This is pure delusion. There is no evidence of any supernatural purpose. People cling to this because they simply do not want to face the harsh reality of the inherent futility and absurdity of the human condition.

        Think for yourself, deep thoughts are very rewarding.

        This quote from Steven Weinberg sums it up. “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless” The only meaning or purpose in life is subjective, it’s not something that can be found through a detailed and objective study of nature. When people say they have meaning and purpose in their lives, it may be subjectively true to them, but that shouldn’t be confused with true objective meaning.

        Anyway…..It is what it is 🙂

        • @ Ray , I won’t bother given you a proper response. Just a waste of my energy really. Sorry!
          People who don’t face their fears are called … cowards.
          It’s okay, your energy isn’t worth much to me anyway I was just wanting to see if you could justify your beliefs, but in the end I suppose that’s not one of the “deep thoughts” you’ll actually expend energy analysing.

        • Also, Dave:

          Anyway, so where does that leave me, people can never quite place me, i am classified as coloured in SA. Black in the USA and here i am labelled as Polynesian or Arab. My point is that majority of Chinese that i have met here in NZ are rude and inconsiderate. Stop getting emotional or upset about a pathetic ad. Deal with it and move one. It is what it is, funny or not. It is not racist!

          When you don’t get that job that you are qualified for perhaps you should just laugh at it, because it is the “employer’s preference” that you stay jobless. “Deal with it and move on”, as you say 🙂

          • @ Ray…hahaha 🙂 I’m having a good laugh. Really I am…if you are calling me a coward on a public forum, i really wonder if you would call me that to my face…I highly doubt you would! I fear absolutely no one and definitely do not fear the opinions of sheep. They mean stuff all to me.

            That article about Muslims minorities being supposedly discriminated against; “When a group of Muslims requested that the Cross be removed from a War Memorial in Palmerston North (correct me if wrong on the location) a few years back finding it offensive that is when the alarm bells should of sounded and these people told if you do not like our way of life and customs then please leave. The problem now of course is that with the high cost of living and lack of future vision for some people the Muslims seem to be a attractive alternative and recruiting is alive and well in NZ. I do worry about our future and my children/grandchildren if we do not stand up and take notice now. Go ahead call me whatever makes you happy but to say that all of the terrible things happening worldwide in the name of Islam can not happen here…Please do take a moment and have a reality check.”
            The New Zealand customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of Sharia Law in Islam. What is islamaphobia? I don’t think the name quite fits. I have a fear of blind violence perpetrated on innocent civilians. Currently the worldwide trend of this happening is done, in the majority, by extremists of the Islamic faith. If it was being done by little old ladies in red vests I’d probably have a healthy fear of all little old ladies who wear red vests. How many of these Islamic countries allow freedom of religion, Christian aid ministries or even encourage or tolerate refugees? All religions are controlling garbage…. none are based on fact… as i say…’leave religion to the ignorant’ .

            Islam, unfortunately, is the fastest growing religion in the world, in 3 decades will be 10% of NZ population, then see what rights they ask for and what demands they make. Will be us bending to their will.

            May sound alarmist, but just go Birmingham in UK, Netherlands or Paris, causing huge issues there.

            The questions is, are Muslims discriminating against New Zealand?

          • I’m laughing if you think that I choose to behave so impulsively. And ooh, scary at the threat of violence – in this day and age of recording and youtube – your employability will quickly come to an end if you take swings at people based on words that do not appear as epithets or invective in the dictionary.
            No, you’ll get around to understanding yourself later.
            And I’m more of the belief that “worrying about terrorism” just doesn’t make much sense, simply because that keeps you unaware of the immediate danger of criminality at close range, e.g. “people getting ahead by lying” and “the idea that racism is not my problem”.
            Everyone really only has a small window of time (say 20 years) to develop or exercise new skills and gain the confidence of others to be paid fairly for their work. If you think “things get easier for steadily employed that now find themselves unemployed, since they have skills and experience” … I’m here to tell you that it’s very unlikely.

    • Most of the Indians and Chinese i come across here can barely speak English especially the Chinese who don’t even bother to try and understand someone. Usually they are rude and inconsiderate!
      Just a question are you afraid of coming across Chinese and Indians in New Zealand that can speak and write fluently in English, as I gather you do not “come across them often”?
      Would you call them “arrogant” for being able to do so?

  5. Shameful ad and not funny at all. Maybe the Chinese taxi driver speaks like an infant so the average kiwi will actually understand what’s being said?

  6. Holy f**k. What a racist ad.
    I suppose they are trying to say that “only unqualified people become taxi drivers” … rather than “qualified people who can’t find jobs because of their pigmentation, have to drive taxis to survive”.
    It’s just like watching that movie “Tomorrow, when the War began”.
    I almost threw something at the screen when the Chinese guy’s mother spoke in broken English.

    Another ad you might want to include is

    (If you wonder where you’ve seen that actor, he’s also in … Deano and Nige’s Best Last Day Ever(2012) and plays a storekeeper.

    Basically, Charlie Chan, Gunga Din, Sambo, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Suzie Wong are the kinds of stereotypes Asians in New Zealand are encourage to be like, “if they want to get ahead”.
    People behaving with the panache of Sendhil Ramamurthy, Donnie Yen or Tadanobu Asano get told … “they’re just not fitting in”.

    As someone said about “being grateful about being allowed in” implies that normally you are seen as “less than human” … why should anyone listen further to someone who talks in that way towards them?

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