Complaint about 'Muslim friendly' Kiwibank advert thrown out

A complaint about a Kiwibank advert has been rejected by the ASA.
A complaint about a Kiwibank advert has been rejected by the ASA. Photo credit: Newshub

Kiwibank has been accused of claiming New Zealand is a "Muslim country" in a complaint about one of its adverts.

The 45-second TV advert, which started airing in June, tells viewers about some of the state-owned bank's social campaigns, including sponsoring the New Zealander of the Year Awards and the Department of Conservation's Dogs Programme. 

But it's a shot of a "Muslim woman wearing a headscarf shown working on a production line" that's annoyed complainant C Sheridan.

"Only the white workers are wearing the legally required hairnets," their complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

"At the end of the advert the Muslim woman is shown and then the 'Kiwi' part of the Kiwibank logo appears, obviously done to make people think New Zealand is a Muslim or Muslim friendly country. 

"So this advert is wrong on at least two levels - everyone has to wear a hairnet on a production line and this is not a Muslim country."

The advert opens with a few seconds showing a group of women preparing food in a kitchen. A couple of them are wearing headscarves, as is typical for Muslim women. 

The ASA threw the complaint out, the chair disagreeing "with the complainant's takeout of the advertisement regarding the women featured and the placement of the Kiwibank logo".

It also pointed out the law allows inspectors to let food preparation workers to wear "any alternative clothing that he or she considers appropriate" instead of a standard hairnet.

The complaint was thrown out, with the chair ruling there were no grounds to proceed.

Kiwibank told Newshub it is "proud to reflect the diversity of our customers and the communities in which we serve".

"We actively support initiatives which encourage diversity and we are proud to be able to champion New Zealand in this way."

It's estimated around 1 percent of New Zealanders are Muslim. Kiwibank's advert hit screens just a few months after 51 people were gunned down at two mosques in Christchurch.