Kayak "Brain Surgery" Commercial
Artist: Barton F. Graf 9000, Harold Einstein (Station Film)
Date of Action: August 2021
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Advertising Standards Authority
Description of Artwork: In 2012, holiday website Kayak ran an ad in the UK depicting a surgeon performing a brain operation while booking a holiday on the site. The surgeon jabs the exposed brain of his patient, causing the patient to move and search for holidays online on a laptop. His assistant says that this is unethical behavior and it would be faster and easier to use Kayak, which consolidates results from hundreds of travel websites.
The Incident: The ad was banned after the Advertising Standards Authority received 441 complaints that it was "offensive, distressing and insulting to the medical profession." Kayak countered that the ad was supposed to be a funny parody and that "humor could offend at times," but the ASA ultimately banned the ad on the grounds that it could cause "distress without justifiable reason...and serious offense to viewers who had been affected by the type of operation depicted in the ad."
Results of Incident: The ASA banned broadcasts of the commercial.