An Australian TV advertisement that shows a couple getting engaged in a romantic kiss was branded a “bit of a surprise” by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad features a group of friends at a bar, but the audience is shown the ad by the narrator, saying that the couple is “doing it again” after two years together.
But the ad’s producers say the audience was not shown the full length of the kiss, or that it was filmed from the perspective of the woman in the ad.
The ASA told BuzzFeed News the ad had been viewed almost 4.4 million times and had been watched by more than 7 million people.
“The ad is clearly intended to promote sexual activity between a man and a woman, and the viewers are clearly not presented with that,” the ASA said.
“In the case of this particular ad, the viewer is shown a scene from the ad where a man kisses a woman in a public place.”
The ASA added that it had received complaints from viewers who thought the ad was “offensive and misleading”.
“We have advised the company that the ad does not represent an endorsement of same-sex sexual activity, as the viewers would be shown a woman kissing a man in a restaurant, not a bar,” the regulator said.
The ad has been removed from all of the company’s Australian channels.
In its statement, TVNZ said it was “working closely with its advertising partner to investigate”.
“The ads are clearly intended for commercial purposes, but our aim is to ensure that the viewer sees all the relevant context,” it said.
A spokeswoman for TVNZ declined to comment on the ASA’s decision.
The company said it would be consulting with its legal advisers and was “looking into our options”.
“In light of these concerns, we are taking this matter very seriously and will be discussing our position with our advertising partner, to ensure our advertising is suitable for all audiences,” she said.