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Chainsaw advert cuts a little too deep for some

Tuesday 31 Mar 2009 12:00a.m.

Chainsaw advert cuts a little too deep for some

An advertisement for a brand of chainsaws that makes light of a deathbed scene has drawn criticism for being insensitive and offensive.

While it has upset a few viewers, the ad's makers say it was never intended to offend.

In the commercial, as a grieving family gathers around a dying patriarch, the old man issues a final instruction to his favourite son: "Look after your mother."

It is a touching, poignant moment, and an opportunity for a selfish son: "He said I can have his chainsaw."

It is humour of the blackest kind, but a conservative media standards watchdog says the ad, for chainsaw manufacturer Stihl, has crossed a line.

"I was really horrified," says Adrian Cooper of Media Matters in NZ. "I thought, this is not good enough. It's simply not good enough, and it's not the New Zealand I know."

The ad prompted a flurry of complaints to the Broadcasting and Advertising Standards authorities.

"I think that any mature, responsible, thinking adults looking at that would find it offensive," says Mr Cooper.

The chainsaw company has also been on the receiving end.

"We have had four or five people since Sunday night, when the ad first went to air, contact us and say, 'Do you really think that's in good taste?'" says Jim Bibby of Stihl.

So far the ad makers have resisted the urge to tell their critics to get a life.

"It's a shame, it's a pity some people feel that way," says Toby Talbot of DDB NZ. "I think, generally speaking, a lot of people see it for what it is - it is actually quite a light-hearted ad."

Whether any guidelines have been breached will be decided by the Advertising Standards Authority, but for now, the ad lives to play another day.

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