The Committee of Advertising Practise is advising national newspapers to exercise caution when it comes to running a new Barnardo's shock ad campaign, which uses image of a baby about to shoot heroin. The ads are part of the charity's drive to raise awareness about its work with children. The ad is scheduled to run for the first time this weekend in national broadsheet newspapers.
A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority, said: "The ad has been booked, paid for and printed. CAP is urging newspaper ad departments that if they are approached to check with the our copy advisory team."
He added: "The CAP believes the ad breaks the industry codes in terms of causing serious or widespread offence."
The ASA has already received complaints about the ad based on media coverage. It cannot, however, ban an ad until it has actually run and complaints have been received about it in context.
The ad shows a baby clutching a blood-filled syringe as it tightens a tourniquet with its mouth on a grimy, litter-strewn floor. "John Donaldson - aged 23. Battered as a child," the copy runs. "It was always possible that John would turn to drugs. With Barnardo's help, child abuse need not lead to an empty future." Developed by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the campaign continues its theme of "giving children back their future". "We wanted to show that any drug addict was once a baby, with a whole future ahead of him or her," Andrew Nebel, Barnardo's director of marketing and communications explained.