It’s that time of the month again when the advertising industry
gets to chuckle at the sorry mental condition of the nation’s
Yes, that monthly comic, the Inde-pendent Television Commission’s TV
Advertising Complaints report, has arrived, reminding me that there are
people out there with even fewer marbles than myself.
Take, for instance, the one about the Sony Minidisc man who jumps from a
bridge on to a moving train. A hackneyed stock shot from a thousand
adventure movies, the sort I used to watch in front of my mum’s fire on
a wet Saturday morning when I was a kid. But put a similar scene in an
ad and people cry foul, arguing that it could encourage children to play
copycat. The ITC, no doubt, put in valuable time deciding that such
fears were unfounded since the ad wasn’t shown around children’s
Then there were complaints about the Peugeot 406 ad which shows a car
driving over a level crossing as a train approaches. Irresponsible and
dangerous driving, some claim. The ITC demurred, pointing out that the
driving shown in the ad was calm and measured and unlikely to prompt
drivers to go mad on level crossings.
It’s increasingly hard to take such complaints ser-iously, although the
ITC is, of course, duty bound to examine each objection. The problem is
that, all too often, when there are genuine grounds for concern, the ITC
is too late in its appraisal.
In this month’s report, an ad for Direct Line Insurance was considered
to be misleading because some of its claims were unclear. The ITC
decided the ad had to be withdrawn but, by then, the campaign had
finished its six-week run. It has subsequently been exonerated. But when
is the ITC going to spend less time dealing with complaints that border
on the ridiculous and, instead, concentrate on catching the real
offenders in good time?