An “offensive” Christmas-themed gun advertisement has been given the OK by the ad watchdog despite complaints from alarmed parents that it “taints the magic” of Santa Claus for children.
The Gun World Australia ad featured a woman dressed in a Santa outfit posing with a firearm, with text reading: “Santa knows what you really want for Christmas.”
A complaint to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) expressed “disgust” over the ad, claiming it could send children the message that a gun is a toy.
“This is promoting the sale of firearms and directing the focus at children associating Santa, a figure which children would notice, with the sale of weapons,” the submission read.
“It offends myself and my nine-year-old boy … This is not America.”
However, despite the concerns, the ASB ruled in favour of Gun World on the basis that Santa appealed to the wider population, not only children.
Tash Hughes, Santa’s letter elf at Love Santa, said the ASB had “missed the mark” and said she believed the promotion could make children think guns are “fun or desirable”.
“The Santa I know and love is kind, generous and keen to encourage children to be good or nice. Guns are not good or nice, so I truly don’t see how Santa should be associated with guns or being seen to encourage their use,” she told The New Daily.
“A business has a right to advertise their products or services … but the message needs to be carefully considered.
“I also think children have a right to keep the magic of Santa alive, and associating him with guns is a taint on that magic.
“Children grow up so quickly now, so it is all the more important to protect them from unnecessary worries and ideas.”
Gun World director Ryan Rosenlund described the complaints as “frivolous”.
“This is not the first time we have had frivolous complaints dismissed and most likely it will not be the last,” he said.
President of the Shooters’ Union of Australia, Graham Park, said he believed the controversy over the ad was a “storm in a teacup”, largely triggered by Queensland politician Leeanne Enoch during the state election.
He said he thought the uproar was “timely” and said petitions and counter-petitions, both for and against the ad, had circulated during the political campaign.
“The complaint only occurred after this politician raised it as an issue,” Mr Park said.
“I don’t think the ad sent any particularly obnoxious or concerning messages or that it was inappropriate at all.
“There is no image of Santa and the woman is not in an offensive or sexist pose.
“Guns are a legal and highly regulated business in Australia and these businesses should be able to advertise.”
Ms Enoch told The New Daily she was disappointed by the ASB decision.
“The billboard sends mixed messages to our children and doesn’t reflect the serious responsibility of gun ownership,” she said.
“Diminishing a gun to an item you can find under a Christmas tree like socks or a child’s bike is disturbing in my opinion, and this is a view shared by many residents in my electorate.”