Barnardo's shock ad attracts most complaints this year

LONDON – The shock ad for children's charity Barnardo's, which shows a child with a cockroach crawling out of its mouth, has become the most complained about ad of the year.

The advertising watchdog said the press ad created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty had racked up 445 complaints. The Advertising Standards Authority has yet to rule on whether the campaign should be pulled or not.

The campaign was inspired by the fact that the UK has the worst child poverty rate in Europe with 3.8m children living in poverty and uses the strapline: "There are no silver spoons for children born into poverty".

As well as the cockroach image, other executions show a baby with a heroin-filled syringe in her mouth and a baby drinking a bottle of methylated spirit. A fourth execution reads: "If only every baby was born with a silver spoon".

Last week the charity defended the campaign with full page ads in the form of an open letter from Barnardo's chief executive Roger Singleton, headlined: "It's easy to turn a blind eye to poverty. Just turn the page".

However, despite the severity of the images evidence suggests that they have little impact on the public.

Research carried out for Marketing magazine by OMD Snapshots found that the majority of people do not find the images shocking. It also found that they have no impact on whether people will donate to the charity concerned.

According to Marketing, of the 1,097 people asked whether they were shocked by the images 62.5% said they were not. Just 11.9% said they were shocked and 18.2% said they were turned off.

Unless the campaign is banned the press ads are due to run for another month.

The campaign was art directed by Johnny Leathers and written by George Prest. John Ayling & Associates planned and bought the media. The images for the press ads were photographed by Miles Aldridge.

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