Channel 4 escapes reprimand over ad featuring cocaine

By by Charlie McCathie,, Wednesday, 17 January 2007 11:50AM

LONDON - Channel 4 has escaped a rap from the advertising watchdog for featuring cocaine on a poster ad for TV drama 'Goldplated'.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated the ad after seven complaints from the public, but protests for a ban were rejected on the grounds that it was not glamorising the drug.

The poster showed a gold credit card highlighting the text "New Drama Goldplated Starts Weds 18/10/06", with a white powder clearly visible along the edge of the card.

Seven people complained that the ad could encourage drug use among young people and deemed it offensive and irresponsible.

However, Channel 4 argued that the ad did not condone drug use and did not contain images of a person taking the drug.

It also pointed out that the ad was clearly labelled with its logo and the words "New Drama" to make it explicit that the poster was advertising a new TV show.

Taking inspiration from ITV's deliberately trashy 'Footballers' Wives', 'Goldplated' followed a group of morally destitute Cheshire individuals and Channel 4 argued these characters were not intended to be aspirational to young people.

The broadcaster asserted that the image of the card showed the characters' lives were built on credit rather than wealth and that drugs were portrayed in the show as destructive, resulting in aggression, rehab, a car accident and suicide for various characters.

Channel 4 further argued that the none of the 1,772 poster sites were near any schools and that only adults with pre-existing knowledge of the drug would identify the white powder as cocaine.

The ASA agreed that it was clear the ad was for a TV drama and considered that those unacquainted with drug use, in particular young children, would not connect the image to cocaine.

On the grounds of condoning drug taking, Channel 4's arguments were also accepted. The watchdog concluded that the ad "was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence".

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