a complaint about the VUKA! ad

I received a letter from ASA (Advertising Standards Authority of SA) yesterday enclosing a complaint from one viewer who had watched the VUKA! ad last month….

Some of you may know that The DNA Project was the recipient of a VUKA! Commercial entitled ‘Leaving Something Behind’ – which was produced and donated to The DNA PROJECT by the media industry in Cape Town last year. It gives little warning to the audience of what they were about to see, suffice to say it is a very powerful piece. For those who have seen the commercial on their computer screen, the impact is a thousand fold when seen on a big screen. You can literally sense people draw breath as the opening scene begins, and when the minute segment has ended you can tell that people are visibly moved by this hard hitting production which highlights what we live with in SA and how we need to be reminded every now and again that crime is not OK. The VUKA Commercial won a place in the top 30% category and is being flighted by DSTV free of charge on its various channels for the duration of 2010. [ the VUKA! Awards (“Wake Up” in Nguni) were introduced in 1999 as a platform to reward and nurture South Africa’s filmmaking talent while providing vital exposure to social causes and charities via Public Service Announcements (PSAs) as the competition genre. M-Net and the DSTV platform flights an average of 60 free charity commercials every year, with the top 30% of VUKA! Awards PSA entries being broadcast on M-Net and selected DStv channels. The on-going exposure of critical social issues via the M-net and selected DSTV platform has resulted in resources being directed towards needy causes whose messages are broadcast into over one million homes in South Africa, the African continent and Indian Ocean Islands.]

The complainants objections to the ad were that it was too explicit and graphic to be shown during family time [it is always shown after 8pm]. She went on to say that the advert is absolutely disgusting and in bad taste and too vulgar to show at any time of the day.

I have been asked to respond so that ASA may adjudicate on the objection and determine whether in fact the ad is appropriate for public viewing.

Interestingly, this is the first complaint and only the second negative response I have received about the advert. Every other response has been positive – yes, it has disturbed people, it has made them go ‘cold’ on viewing, but the conclusion has always been that unfortunately it is necessary, as this IS what we live with in this country and the ad shows that there IS something we can do about it.

I have no objection to people expressing their opinions and I believe that I too have the right to express mine – we obviously will not always agree with one another. However, I think the complainant has missed the point of the ad – it is not designed to disgust people, it is designed to snap people out of their complacency and acceptance of our crime riddled society. And I think it does just that. But I do think the message in the end is powerful – in our favour. It states that ‘no matter what they (the criminals) take, they always leave something behind’, and it is for that reason that we feel we have the upper hand at the end of the one minute ad.

The VUKA! ads are all based on emotive and hard hitting issues that effect our society, and it is pointless to wrap them in tissue paper and pretend they don’t exist. I know how it feels to have a family member brutally murdered, and there are too many others out there who have suffered at the hands of crime, whether by being a victim of rape, assault, hijacking or having lost a loved one at the hands of a criminal in SA. And this ad is NOTHING compared to how that feels. This is easy to watch compared to watching people suffering day in and day out due to crime.

I ask that you now watch the ad, and please, add your comment below as to what you think about it and whether you think it ought to be pulled or whether it ought to stay. Your input is valuable and I am interested to know whether I stand alone in how I feel, or perhaps whether I may have missed the point too?

Click here to view the ad: ‘Leaving Something Behind’ –

with thanks

10 Responses to “a complaint about the VUKA! ad”

  1. Dianne Thomson says:

    I think it is hard hitting and perhaps not even long enough.. maybe a bit more should be included in a different crime scene. To hide it under the carpet would be in my mind be a big a mistake. God forbid that any of my family should be subjected to such cruel and debased treatment and then the perpetrators be allowed to go unpunished and free to do it agian and again. By finding the DNA, this can be prevented and the evil people apprehended. Those that are offended by this have obviously not been effected by crime themselves.

    My son Michael [ In whose name the Change a Life trust was formed] died 21/2 years ago protecting his family from such a fate. Had there been DNA harvesting and testing perhaps the members of the Razor Gang ,whose modis operandi is murder, rape and robbery, would not only be behind bars but already senteneced and put away for life. As it stands now, they are in jail but no court case has taken place! They have escaped and been recaptured more than once now.

    Keep up the good work Vanessa

    Warm regards,

    Di Thomson

  2. Liz says:

    I guess the question we should be asking is how can we help and what can we do, start by becoming educated and take note of what the ad is trying to bring to your attention. At some stage in your life you may become a victim of crime in SA and if it happens, do you really want the criminal to go free due to the lack of evidence!

  3. The awareness that is created by far outweighs the negatives expressed by the complainant. There’s a lot of other content on DSTV, which is far worse.

  4. Kush says:

    We are a society who craves “reality television” yet when faced with 60 seconds of honest truth, we are appalled and disgusted? It makes no sense! Do we really want to live in a bubble and pretend that this never happens?!?!?! Better to know the truth and be aware than be ignorant! I think it is an excellent ad which portrays the situation well!

  5. Joanne says:

    However graphic it may be – that is the reality of the brutality of crime – sometimes you need to be graphic to get a point across – only those who have lived through these traumas would be able to relate to them – I don’t think it is too graphic.

  6. Stoffel says:

    Pretty shocking to watch but probably necessary!

  7. Shareefa says:

    Wow…..it gave me the chills but I think the point was given across really well.

  8. Lindiwe says:

    I agree it is graphic… but the reality is,if we cover up the truth of the crime by not exposing how explicit it is then we are portraying a wrong picture about it…

  9. Jacqueline says:

    Sjoe! I don’t care if it is shown during so-called “family time”… Criminals don’t just watch TV after-hours! And it is parents’ responsibility to educate their children!

  10. David Swanepoel says:

    Excellent Ad and would love to see many more from The DNA Project in the future!

    It makes a solid point and, in context, highlights a very important fact being that much of the evidence left behind by a criminal is extremely important in investigating the crime. The first step in protecting the integrity of the evidence is educating the general public to make everyone aware of the existence of evidence and its usefulness in investigating crimes and also how it should be handled at a crime scene – with the utmost sense and care.