SCMP Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Eyeball ad leaves critics seeing red


Phone company Sunday walked into a new media storm yesterday when it launched an advertising campaign showing a human eyeball in a bowl of noodle soup.
The full-page advert, designed to promote a free mobile service, attracted 12 complaints from the public to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority after it ran in two Chinese newspapers.
The advert features the eyeball being picked up with a pair of chopsticks from a bowl of noodles. The slogan reads: "Bonus with your noodles? Get free value-added services from Sunday's rechargeable mobile service instead."
Sunday spokeswoman Stella Chan said the concept of the advert was to draw an analogy between its free value-added services and "surprises in daily life such as picking up something unthinkable and extraordinary from a bowl of noodles".
"It is never our intention to cause ill-feeling to the public . . . we simply want people to recall easily from an attention-grabbing advert that our free services are value-for-money," she said.
But Choi Chi-sum, general secretary of media watchdog the Society for Truth and Light, said: "It's quite disturbing and scary with the eyeball and the blood, which is like something from a horror film. It's not fitting to run it in newspapers as children and even adults may be horrified without being warned beforehand."
He said words of warning should have been given to reduce the impact on readers, although he did not believe the advert should be banned.
Sunday sparked controversy in late February with an advertising campaign charged with gay sexual innuendo. And last year, an advert showing a taxi driver being visited by a ghost led to complaints from parents that it gave their children nightmares.