ING Direct pulls RSP “Suffering” ad over complaints

Mental health advocates deem ad "insensitive and disrespectful"

Mental health advocates deem ad “insensitive and disrespectful”

ING Direct has pulled the new “Are You Suffering?” TV spot for its current RSP campaign after complaints from prominent mental health professionals that the ads reinforced negative stereotypes about mental illness.

ING spokesperson Buket Oktem confirmed to Marketing Tuesday morning that the Toronto-based financial services company had pulled the ad and replaced it with earlier work.

The bilingual campaign from Toronto agency John St. compared the anxiety that people feel about starting an RSP to a malady that can cause symptoms like sleeplessness and anxiety.

Watch The Ad
• ING Direct campaign offers cure for RSP-like symptoms

A TV spot included images of a man sitting forlornly on a chair outside and lying motionless on a couch. The man is cured when his wife notices his condition and directs him to the ING Direct website.

“As a result of feedback we’ve received through social media, we’ve decided to remove our RSP spot from TV. It was never our intention to make light of any health conditions relating to mental illness, or to upset or offend anyone suffering from serious conditions like depression. It’s clear our message about stress and anxiety around RSPs was misinterpreted, and we feel it’s best to stop airing the ad,” said Mark Nicholson, head of digital, creative and communications at ING Direct, in a statement.

In a comment made on MarketingMag.ca, Peter Coleridge, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), called the ads “insensitive and disrespectful” to people suffering from mental health issues.

He said that the campaign demonstrates there is still “significant work to do” to improve societal understanding of mental health and mental illness. “Like other forms of discrimination and stigma (e.g. religion, race, sexuality, physical disabilities), discriminatory and stigmatizing attitudes and behaviours toward people with mental illness are not acceptable in today’s society,” he wrote.

Camille Quennville, CEO of the CMHA’s Ontario chapter, commented: “These ads reinforce the stigma that prevents people from reaching out to get the help they need. They are offensive.”

Update: Marketing originally reported that ING Direct’s entire “Are You Suffering” campaign had been pulled. Only the television spot has been pulled. Marketing regrets the error.

Brands Articles

Time for marketers to abandon the safety of the high ground (Book excerpt)

Engagement in the age of tribes means engaging face to face – and pissing the right people off on purpose

Subway Canada gets crafty with new ad campaign

The quick service restaurant touts the art of crafting the perfect sandwich

Crafting small market identity with big market marketing

Shock Top captures a little craft beer identity in a bottle

How to break blind brand loyalty

A new study unveils how brands can disrupt tech habits and win new consumers

Campbell Company of Canada names new president

SC Johnson vet Ana Dominguez takes the helm, replacing Philip Donne

Watch This: Canadian Tire talks to parents about back to school

Moms and dads share a few thoughts (and a few tears) on their kids' first day of school

Ottawa Senators make headlines with new CMO hire

Longtime newspaper executive Peter O’Leary starts his new position Sept. 22

Scotiabank’s Tangerine brand gets a PHD in media

Tangerine CMO Andrew Zimakas on why PHD won the account