OPINION: MILLS ON ... TANGO AND CHILDREN’S ADVERTISING

So what do we know? Campaign makes Tango its Pick of the Week two weeks ago and then, last Friday, the ad is suspended by the Independent Television Commission.

So what do we know? Campaign makes Tango its Pick of the Week two

weeks ago and then, last Friday, the ad is suspended by the Independent

Television Commission.



Like Mark Anderson, whose prescient letter arguing that Tango should be

banned we printed last week, I also felt that Tango was a suspension

waiting to happen. Why? Well, if you subject a fat youth (in fact, I

thought he had red hair too but it turns out it’s just his tormentors

who do) to verbal assault, then you’re asking for trouble. As anybody

who remembers their schooldays knows, fat kids and red hair is a lethal

combination. Chuck in an easily obtainable megaphone as the instrument

of torture and you’re in classic copycat territory.



Wail as Tango has, I confess I have only a small amount of sympathy for

it or HHCL & Partners. The little I have concerns the role of the

BACC.



Whether you agree with the ban or not, agency and client are entitled to

feel aggrieved with the organisation. It isn’t the first time (remember

the classic Rover hostage fiasco) this has happened, and it won’t be the

last. But to have a system where one body can approve an ad and another

ban it is to court trouble. More importantly, it brings the system into

disrepute.



Quite how they sort this out I don’t know. I’m told that, faced with

tricky ads and an insistent agency, the BACC quite often nods them

through on a ’well, let’s suck it and see’ basis. Such expediency -

let’s charitably call it the ’anything for a quiet life’ approach - may

work most of the time, but it only takes the odd failure to expose the

folly and essential spinelessness of such thinking. It may be then that

some kind of unitary system is the way forward. But frankly, since they

have been there once before with the orange genie and the slap, I’m

surprised Tango and HHCL didn’t spot the potential problem.



As for the case for the defence, Tango says it researched the ad with

young people and mothers, 88 per cent of whom found it funny. What about

the other 12 per cent? And how many of them were a) fat b) red haired or

c) teachers? Actually, I wouldn’t argue with the figures at all, but

bullying is such an emotive subject that even 100 per cent approbation

isn’t going to save the day.



Next up, Tango offers the ’it’s so over the top it’s got to be a spoof’

line and it’s aimed at teenagers. Sorry guys, that doesn’t wash. The ads

may not be aimed at them but I see plenty of children drinking Tango and

the thing about spoofs is that they’re in the eye of the beholder, not

the creator.



No doubt the furore will blow over, but the person it could leave

exposed is Rupert Howell. There is not a more eloquent spokesman for the

industry or indeed HHCL. He, of course, will argue that Tango

demonstrates the virtues of the self-regulatory system. But when it

comes to defending children’s advertising he is now, I fear, holed

beneath the waterline. Imagine the scenario: Howell makes a passionate

plea against a ban and some Swede says ’Hang on, didn’t your agency have

an ad banned for encouraging children’s bullying ...?’



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