The Independent Television Commission has thrown out a catalogue of
complaints against agencies for encouraging racism and tainting the
innocence of children in its latest Television Advertising Complaints
Lowe Howard-Spink’s ‘babies’ ad for the Vauxhall Astra attracted
accusations that it failed to represent a range of ethnic minorities.
But the ITC dismissed the objections on the grounds that, although no
ethnic minorities were featured in the close-up shots, minorities were
seen in the crowd scenes.
A number of ads were deemed offensive by viewers because they depicted
scenes or images that they felt were unsuitable for children.
Bates Dorland’s ‘Harry and Molly’ ads for Safeway, which have already
been lambasted by MPs (Campaign, 24 May and 14 June), attracted further
criticism for supposedly portraying children in a sexually provocative
manner. Some viewers were upset by Harry’s line: ‘Looks like a snog’s
out of the question, then?’. A number of complainants considered the ad
to be exploitative and some said that it offered possible encouragement
But the ITC disagreed that the children were portrayed in a sexually
provocative manner and said that the dialogue was used in a light-
hearted manner and did not constitute adequate grounds for intervention.
Dorlands’ work for B&Q drew complaints for its portrayal of a Scotsman
giving details of a price promotion. It was claimed that stereotyping a
Scotsman as a penny-pincher was racist and offensive.
The ITC rejected the complaints because it felt the joke was good-
natured, having been spoken by a Scotsman.
A Central Office of Information ad that sought to reduce the number of
house fires was attacked for a scene showing a moth being killed by a
candle flame. Some children were said to be frightened by it. However,
the ITC did not uphold the complaints, partly because it had prevented
the ad from being shown around children’s programmes.
A J. Walter Thompson ad for the Daily Telegraph was accused of using
disturbing images of poverty and social alienation to help promote its
offer of Letts revision guides. But the ITC did not agree that it was
likely to cause widespread offence.