Coffee franchise in hot water over “bullying” and “paedophilia” complaints

A drive-through coffee franchise is in hot water with the advertising watchdog over “Sticky Boy” commercial. 

An ad for drive through coffee franchise Muzz Buzz, dubbed ‘Sticky Boy’, shows a young boy with a beverage being poured over his head by a man in a car.

When the man finishes pouring the drink, he touches the boy’s head, licks his finger and says “delicious sticky boy”.

According to a report by Mumbrella, the commercial has been pulled, following complaints of violence and paedophilia to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).

The complaints argued the ad was “creepy” and “inappropriate,” as it depicted child abuse and bullying.

“At best the treatment of the child is abusive, child depicted as passive and powerless, at worst has creepy overtones of sexual predator,” a complainant said.

“At no time during this ad does the child look remotely happy. Child abuse, bullying, child paedophile, waste of product- drink, the words the driver uses, the actions of the drive[r] towards the child, the waste of product as there are many today starving and thirsty people in our local communities,” said another.

Muzz Buzz argued the campaign, produced by production company Mad Kids, was made in the “spirit of displaying weird and interesting examples of ‘taste-driven silliness'”.

Muzz Buzz said it was “shocked” by accusations of sexualisation of children however conceded it could understand how the actions of the adult in the ad could be perceived as “uncaring or vilifying and a violation of the boy’s rights.”

The franchise has formally apologised for the mistakes and pulled the ad from broadcast and online prior to the ASB’s final determination.

Upon review, the ad watchdog said while the advertisement did not vilify or discriminate a person or community based on age, it could be considered “abusive” and the adult’s actions could be perceived as “assault”.

The man’s phrase “delicious sticky boy” was also considered, with the ASB deciding there was strong sexual content in the phrase and his actions.

The board also agreed Muzz Buzz depicted bullying, which was in breach of the ASB’s standards on health and safety.