FNB has dismissed complaints that its ‘Floyd the florist’ radio ads are offensive and suggested that the character is not gay, but is just “highly creative”.

At least two complaints have been lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the ads which feature a florist who bears all the clichéd hallmarks of a stereotypical South African gay male, as often depicted in the media.

In an e-mail, Barrett Whiteford, Head of Marketing at FNB Business Banking, told Mambaonline that “it is not FNB’s intention to stereotype or disrespect people”. He went on to suggest that Floyd is not meant to represent a gay man at all.

“We chose ‘Floyd’ as a creative and passionate character, we make no inference to his gender bias and do not expect our audience to do this either. We were seeking to imply that he is highly creative and the convenience of digital banking enables him to achieve greater productivity in his business. There is no lisping at all and no reference to sexuality in the content,” said Whiteford.

FNB also forwarded a ruling by the ASA, dated 9 October, with regard to a similar earlier complaint against the ad in which the authority ruled in favour of FNB.

“The depiction [of Floyd] is clearly exaggerated for humorous effect. There is no likelihood that viewers will think that all man florist [sic] are gay. Given this, and given that the commercial is clearly not discriminating against gay men, it does not mock gays nor portray them in a negative light,” wrote Phumzile Mhlongo, Administrator: Complaints Assessment.

Gerhard Lombard, who lodged the most recent complaint against the advert, angrily responded to FNB by asking: “Seriously? Is this really your perception of the average person? That we are too ignorant to realise what is implied?

“Is it just coincidence that that this Floyd character owns a flower shop? Does this character sound to you like the average heterosexual male? Do you really think people are that stupid?”

Lombard went on to say: “I hope you enjoy this very funny inside joke at the expense of people who do not fall in your definition as inclusive in your very narrow minded view of a ‘normal society’. Yes, this is my opinion of your marketing department, which chooses to hide behind the skirts of Miss Phumzile Mhlongo from the ASA.

“Even though the LGBTI [community] is supposedly included in the South African constitution, we continue to be verbally- and physically attacked, raped and murdered and you still cannot see that your campaign is aiding this behaviour.”

A despondent Lombard told Mambaonline that he is still awaiting a response from the ASA with regard to his specific complaint.

Do you think FNB is being disingenuous by saying that Floyd is not meant to be seen as gay?

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