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NZ: Drug driving ad stigmatises Māori dads as drugged drivers, says researcher

See video
The controversial NZ Transport Agency drug driving ad on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Item: 8418

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): A former police officer who investigated serious road crashes says the new drug driving television advertisement that is targeted at Māori stigmatises Māori fathers as drug drivers when there is no evidence to suggest this.

Steve Elers was a police crash investigator and police coronial investigator in Western Australia and is researching television advertisements targeted towards Māori as part of doctoral research in AUT University's School of Communication Studies where he lectures in public relations.

Elers said the new Blazed television advertisement that featured three Māori children sitting in their car waiting for their fathers to come out and drive them home appeared to have scant evidence to support its message.

“No research exists to support the assertion that Māori fathers are more likely to drug drive that fathers of other ethnicities,” said Elers.Steve Elers cautions over stigmatising ethnic groups. Image:

“The advertisement also locks Māori in a particular socio-economic group and status through the art direction, location, cars and language used by the child actors.”

The rationale for the campaign on the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website states:

“The Drug Foundation found that Māori men and women were 50 percent more likely to have used cannabis in the previous year than men and women in the general population”.

‘Flawed presumption’
Elers strongly disagreed with NZTA’s statement. “The entire presumption made by the NZTA, that Māori are 50 percent more likely to have used cannabis, is flawed. Unfortunately, this is what the NZTA based its campaign upon.”

The AUT University academic criticised the Drug Foundation survey that the NZTA was referring to.

“The truth be known, the research that the NZTA bases its presumptions upon was merely a self-reported online survey of which Māori participation was statistically underrepresented.”

Moreover, Elers said the advertisement unjustifiably portrayed Māori negatively which was evidenced by the racial comments posted on the YouTube site.

Māori Television has since disabled the comments feature on the YouTube page.

“There has been much literature written in academia that suggests stereotyping minority groups in advertising actually causes more harm than good,” said Elers.

Elers questions both NZTA and its ad agency Clemenger BBDO which stated:

“The idea came from an insight shared by Māori dads: they don't like smoking weed around their children. And yet they have no problem driving with their kids in the car after a session.”

“That statement implies exactly what it says, that Māori dads drive their kids stoned, according to who?” Elers asked.

He said there was similar so called evidence available to support a campaign around Pākehā fathers who might drug drive.

Steve Elers (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāi Tahu) is a lecturer and PhD researcher at AUT University. He holds a master's degree in public relations and a postgraduate qualification in road safety. He has worked as a police crash investigator (sworn) and police coronial investigator (sworn) in the Western Australia Police.

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An interesting advert

This is an interesting ad. I do not support the ad as it stereotypes an people, but the message is clear, that there should no driving while intoxicated.

Disgusted by harmful NZ ad

I remember a Scandinavian study suggesting pharmacy medications and caffeine to have a greater degree of risk in regards to driving.
I would imagine fatigue and illness such as diabetes still to be of the greatest risk of an auto accident.
Taika Cohen now Waititi, stars in a alcohol advertisement, which undoubtedly creates more accidents than weed ever will do.

This is an extremely harmful advertisement that serves to humiliate Maori men and ill inform the public about the more serious risks of driving.

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