NEWS: ITC clears Persil of racist imagery

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J. Walter Thompson is remaining tight-lipped over the furore about allegedly racist images in its current Persil ad. More than 30 viewers complained that the ad suggested white was superior to black.

J. Walter Thompson is remaining tight-lipped over the furore about

allegedly racist images in its current Persil ad. More than 30 viewers

complained that the ad suggested white was superior to black.



One scene shows a dalmatian shaking off its black spots, while another

features an ice-skater dressed in white speeding away from his

companions dressed in black.



The Independent Television Commission decided that for most people the

performance of washing powder on white clothes was an important test of

its effectiveness and concluded that the ad was unlikely to offend the

majority of viewers.



However, the ITC advised the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre to

consider carefully images or references that could be misconstrued as

racial metaphors.



JWT referred all calls on the matter to Lever Brothers, Persil's

manufacturer, which welcomed the ITC's decision not to uphold the

complaints, but pledged to heed the watchdog's advice on the use of

potentially racist imagery.



Meanwhile, a TBWA ad for Nissan, which featured voo-doo imagery,

attracted 116 complaints from viewers who found the ad distasteful and

irresponsible.



The Nissan commercial, the latest in the 'Ask before you borrow it'

series, features a woman sticking pins into a doll that resembles her

boyfriend. The man is then shown driving a Nissan Micra and feeling pain

very time a pin goes into the doll.



The complainants felt that any advertising concerned with voodoo was

unacceptable on television. Just under 30 viewers were worried that the

ad would encourage children to believe in voodoo powers, 17 felt that

the ad was offensive to Christianity and 14 expressed belief in the

powers and dangers of voodoo practices.



The ITC admitted that it was surprised by the level of complaints and

invited a number of complainants to expand on their comments. The ITC

noted that the ad was intended to be light-hearted and did not uphold

the complaints, but it admitted that it would have been preferable for

the ad to have been scheduled after the watershed.





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