ASA rules against racist insurance ad

The Advertising Standards Authority has become embroiled in a new row over the use of ethnic groups in marketing communications. It has ordered an insurance company to destroy a set of leaflets featuring four black men in a police identity parade after the campaign was attacked for being racist.

The leaflet, for Lifestyle Services Group, depicted a criminal line-up containing just four black men, one with a frightened look on his face.

The text read: "Sometimes you might wish someone had stolen your identity."

The Plymouth and District Racial Equality Council complained that because there were no white people in the line-up, the ad implied black men were criminals.

The ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that the mailing reinforced a stereotype that black men are criminals and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Lifestyle Services Group said it had not meant to cause any offence and reassured the ASA that the remaining leaflets had been destroyed.

- Comment, page 60.