- Advertising watchdogs have issued a warning about the growing use of daring creative treatments in teaser campaigns, amid growing concerns that some are becoming offensive and irresponsible.
The call for greater sensitivity comes from the Advertising Standards Authority, which has backed 34 complaints about a poster which claimed that "61 per cent of children aged 12 have had sex."
The ASA's action follows concern over other attention-grabbing "teasers", including a direct mailing which caused uproar in one home because it appeared to come from the recipient's exotically-named lover.
"Most people enjoy a good joke," the ASA says in its monthly report. "But advertisers should take care to consider the effect of the individual elements of a teaser campaign if they are seen in isolation.
"It is also wise to remember that what might clearly resemble an ad to the creative who has slaved over it may look entirely different to its bemused recipient."
The controversy over "teasers" has been given fresh impetus by an Ogilvy & Mather campaign which used the deliberately exaggerated under-age sex claim to publicise an upcoming national debate about social issues.
The poster making the claim was part of a series. One declared: "The average retirement will last 50 years". Another carried the message: "One third of first time mothers are over 55".
The plan was to run the posters for a week before covering their provocative messages with the words: "The statistics of the future haven't been written yet. Don't let someone else write them for you."
But the ASA ruled that the phoney facts about a subject on which people were highly sensitive was not sufficiently exaggerated to make it unbelievable and might also make children vulnerable to peer pressure to have under age sex.