Pet insurer, Dotsure says it stands by its advert of a heroic pet named “Kei” who was shot by an intruder while trying to save his family, despite an Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ruling which ordered it to withdraw or amend the ad.
According to Dotsure, the ad was based on true events that were widely covered in the news, celebrating Kei, who was shot by an intruder while defending his family during a break-in. In the advert the Lamont family recalls the incident and the emotional journey that followed.
The ruling was made following two complaints. The first raised issue with the description of the event being detailed, saying it triggered those who were in the same situation.
They play the sound of the dog being shot and the dog crying. . . They give a very detailed description of how the bullet entered the dog’s face. It is very shocking, triggering, scary and disturbing. It is not appropriate for kids to see,” the complaint read.
The complainant also referenced animal abuse, in connection with the sound of the dog whining after being shot.
The second complainant added that “scare tactics” to promote pet insurance was not suitable for family viewing.
Dotsure, in its response denied that the advertisement contravened the Code of Practice or promoted animal abuse.
“We further deny that the impact of the advertisement viewed as a whole will have an impact on those who are likely to see or hear it in the manner as alleged. Any perceived severity is further mitigated by the positive outcome highlighted in the advertisement. We deny that the advertisement instils fear (‘fears of crime’, ‘children being fearful that their pets will be attacked’, ‘shocking, scary and disturbing’), nor that it supports or condones acts of violence – quite the contrary,” Dotsure argued.
Ultimately the regulator found that most South Africans hold a certain amount of fear or anxiety around crime and many are also suffering PTSD symptoms from home invasions and violent crime.
“For all the reasons outlined above that make the advertisement unsuitable for children, it also plays on the fears of adults. Simply put, a graphic description – with sound effects – of the alarm, of the home invasion, of a weapon being discharged in that home, and the graphic description of harm coming to a pet who is ‘like a member of the family,’ preys on the fears of South African citizens who can, only too easily, picture themselves in the same situation. The Directorate felt that the same story could be conveyed without the traumatic detail and reenactment. The story is inherently powerful; the choice to use triggering sound 6 effects and traumatic detail unjustifiably plays on the fear that most South Africans have about the safety of their family and pets.
“The advertiser is instructed to withdraw or amend the television commercial in its current format, within the deadlines set out in Clause 15. 3 of the Procedural Guide, which in the case of television advertising is immediately, as deadlines permit.”
However Dotsure maintained that the advert tells a “very touching and emotional” story of how Kei saved a child’s life by attacking an intruder.
Despite the outcome, dotsure.co.za said they were "undeterred and committed to telling this heroic story".
“With all due respect to the ARB, we disagree wholeheartedly with this outcome. Since the launch of the ad, we've had an outpouring of support and positive feedback from the public. It's a beautiful, hopeful, and absolutely authentic story about a truly heroic pet. Kei's story deserves to be told and it's a shame that the ARB has allowed this outcome,” said Dotsure managing executive, Glen Anderson