Eggplant emoji used in 2degrees ad not seriously offensive - ASA

A complaint against 2degrees for using a sexual symbol in its ads has been dismissed.

The communications company ran a television ad displaying a number of emoji symbols including an eggplant - a symbol of male genitalia.

"Ten years ago, New Zealand's telcos were acting like eggplant emojis," the voiceover said.

The complainant, D Bennett, says that at first they didn't understand the meaning. But after discovering the hidden message of the eggplant emoji, they failed to see the funny side.

"I think it's crude that 2degrees is using the eggplant emoji," the Advertising Standards Authority Complaints Board reported them saying.

"I did not know this until my daughter asked me what that means by eggplant emoji upon looking it up the eggplant emoji also refers to a man's penis."

However the Board ruled there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed as the threshold to cause serious or widespread offence had not been reached.

"The advertiser had used a range of emojis to illustrate its view that legacy telecommunication companies had taken advantage of consumers prior to the introduction of competition," it noted in its report.

"The chair said emojis have become a part of the common vernacular and noted that some emojis that have a crude meaning may cause less offense as the word or statement they represent is not overt.

"The chair said consumers who were familiar with the eggplant emoji were unlikely to take serious offence to its use in this context, while those who did not know the meaning would not understand the reference."