Recorder players upset by advert that 'exploits and degrades the instrument'

Scenes from the 15-second commercial that recorder players have described as degrading.
Scenes from the 15-second commercial that recorder players have described as degrading. Photo credit: Pink Batts/YouTube

A complaint about an advert in which someone plays a recorder badly has not been upheld. 

The 15-second TV ad for Pink Batts' Silencer offended fans of the humble instrument, who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In the ad, a man in a hooded pink onesie plays the instrument many of us probably last touched in primary school. A woman on the other side of the wall carrying a clipboard listens closely, and appears satisfied with the noise reduction the insulation offers.

"I love Pink Batts Silencer," the man says, glad no one else in the building has to hear the awful racket he's making.

"No matter how close you are to your family, the last thing you want to do is hear them through the walls at every waking hour," the caption on Pink Batts' YouTube page reads

But those at the Wellington-based Recorders and Early Music Union didn't find it funny, laying a complaint with the ASA. 

"The advertisement includes a recorder and makes use of the stereotype current in NZ that the instrument should not be taken seriously and should be an object for derision," the group's complaint reads.

"It exploits and degrades the instrument and our efforts to promote it for artistic and recreational purposes."

According to its website, the Recorders and Early Music Union "is a society of supporters of performance of classical and older music and dance, and recorder playing of all kinds".

The group claimed the Pink Batts ad broke two parts of the Advertising Standards Code, by not having a "due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society" and containing material that could "give rise to hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule".

The ASA threw the complaint out, saying the "badly played recorder was being used as an example of a sound a consumer might want to muffle".

"The chair said the recorder may have been chosen because it is often the first musical instrument that is taught to school children and, as a result, it is likely to be associated with unskilled technique."

The chair said it was unlikely the ad would cause "serious or widespread offence", so the complaint had no grounds to proceed.