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a complaint about the VUKA! ad

Wed, May 19th, 2010

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

Forensic DNA Crimeline

Fri, Jul 31st, 2009

1980 – American geneticists discover a region of DNA that does not hold any genetic information and which is extremely variable between individuals.  Ray White describes first polymorphic.

1984 – Alec Jeffreys discovers a method of identifying individuals from DNA – Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP). He dubs it ‘DNA Fingerprinting’.

1985 – Police in the UK first use forensic DNA profiling.

1986 – Kary Mullis discovers Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method of replicating particular regions of a DNA molecule.

1987 – In the UK. the first criminal case in which DNA was used provided a vivid demonstration of the method’s potential — not only for convicting the guilty but also for exonerating the innocent. It also demonstrated for the first time that a DNA fingerprint could be used to find a perpetrator from within a population.

1988 – FBI starts DNA casework.

1995 – The world’s first national DNA database commences operations in the UK on 10 April 1995.

1998 – FBI launches CODIS database.

1998 – In South Africa, DNA Profiles begin to be entered into the National DNA Crminal Intelligence Database.

1998 – SA opt to use the STR system (Short Tandem Repeats) for DNA Profiling.

2000 – In the UK, the Forensic Science Service announces that the number of DNA profiles of suspects and convicted criminals on the national DNA database has reached one million or roughly one third of the estimated criminally active population.

2006 – The world’s first fully auto-mated system for high-volume forensic DNA analysis and profiling goes live in Arcadia, Tshwane, South Africa in August 2006, putting the Biology Unit of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory at the forefront of global DNA analysis technology.