A television advertisement which targets Maori fathers who
drive stoned with their children in the car has been slammed
for negatively stereotyping and stigmatising Maori.
Steve Elers, who worked as a police crash investigator in
Western Australia and is at AUT University researching TV ads
targeting Maori, says the Transport Agency's Blazed
commercial is based on poor-quality research and will likely
do more harm than good.
Directed by Taika Waititi, the acclaimed director of Boy, the
ad features three Maori children waiting in a car talking
about how well their fathers drive after smoking cannabis.
Mr Elers took issue with an explanation from NZTA and ad
agency Clemenger BBDO that the idea for the commercial came
from an insight shared by Maori dads that they don't like
smoking weed around their children yet they have no problem
driving with them after a session.
"That is explicitly stating that Maori dads smoke weed and
then go drive their kids," he said. "It is being singled out
that that is the Maori norm, that's how Maori are."
NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt denied the ad suggested Maori
were more likely to drug-drive than other ethnicities.
It was the third instalment of a series which attempted to
spread the message about the dangers of drug-driving
throughout the community.
The previous ad, called Expert Opinions, featured dairy
owners, fish and chip shop workers and a couple who owned a
bakery talking about their experiences dealing with stoned
people. That ad, which targeted drivers in their 30s and 40s,
had attracted complaints because it had featured all Pakeha
"Both ads are sending the same message to different parts of
the same very broad audience," Mr Knackstedt said.
"Our research clearly showed that in order to reach Maori
with a message that would be seen as credible, that message
would have to come from a credible source via a trusted
medium and in an authentic way."
- Steve Deane of the New Zealand Herald