Travel site pulls ‘stairlift’ ad after complaints it ‘borders on elder abuse’

TORONTO – Travel site was forced to pull a controversial TV commercial after complaints were filed with Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) claiming the ad is “bordering on elder abuse.”

Kayak’s 30-second TV ad featured a middle-aged man “commandeering” his elderly mother’s home stairlift because he “can’t afford to waste a second,” including walking up a flight of stairs, searching for a good hotel deal.

The man’s mother is seen clutching onto the banister, gasping for air and struggling to get up the stairs as her son passes by on the stairlift.

According to the ASC, “the complaints alleged the advertisement depicted an unacceptable disregard for the welfare of an elderly person, bordering on elder abuse.”

According to the ASC complaints report: “the advertiser initial response to council was that the ad was designed to portray an ‘over the top’ situation in a humorous way, and was not intended to show indifference to the issue of elder abuse.”

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However, the council found the commercial displayed “unacceptable depictions and portrayals” under section 14 (d) of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

According to section 14 (d), advertisements shall not: “undermine human dignity; or display obvious indifference to, or encourage, gratuitously and without merit, conduct or attitudes that offend the standards of public decency prevailing among a significant segment of the population.”

Kayak removed the ad from its YouTube page and has pulled it from television.

“We are disappointed with the result, but we respect Council’s decision and accordingly have withdrawn the ad,” the advertiser said in a statement to ASC.

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