- Bereavement and sex proved equally contentious advertising themes in the latest Independent Television Commission TV Advertising Complaints report, with a host of agencies forced to amend or withdraw their creative work.
The death of Levi's Kevin the Hamster, the hearse scene in the latest Heineken ad and the shocking crash in the Department of Transport Rear Seat Belts campaign caused widespread distress.
After receiving 519 complaints about Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Levi's work -- since withdrawn by the agency -- the ITC decided not to uphold the objections but imposed a 9pm restriction should the ad ever return to TV.
Lowe Howard-Spink's latest Heineken ad drew 88 complaints for a scene showing a hearse and coffin bearing the word Dad. The ITC did not rule out the use of black humour in ads, but felt that the word dad added an extra poignancy and increased the commercial's potential to cause distress. The complaints were upheld and the ITC called for the ad to be amended.
Over 250 viewers objected to Abbott Mead Vickers' DTI Rear Seat Belts ad showing a back-seat teenage boy smashing into his mother in the front seat during a crash and. Viewers complained about the horrific nature of the ad and its unsettling effect on children. The ITC felt that, in areas of public safety, hard-hitting campaigns were generally more effective, but decided that it should not be screened when very young children were likely to be viewing; scheduling should now be concentrated after 7:30pm.
BBH's Lynx ad featuring bikini-clad cavewomen, Euro RSCG Wnel Gosper's Peugeot 306 commercial showing a couple frolicking on a beach beside a parked car and AMV's Gillette Male Body Spray ad with a skydiver crash landing in a hospital ward and immediately being surrounded by attractive nurses all riled viewers with their strong sexual themes. All complaints were rejected.
However, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe's ad for the Times and Publicis' work for the Renault Laguna both drew censure from the ITC for flouting rules on flashing sequences which could cause seizures in epileptics. The ads were withdrawn and amended.
A number of ads, including AMV's work for Granada Digital Television and BT's ISDN and Local Calls, Sky Television trailers, BMP DDB's work for British Gas and CDP's last campaign for Courts all attracted upheld complaints for misleading viewers, prompting the ITC to tighten its policy on price comparisons in TV ads.