The national print campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, bore the tagline "there are no silver spoons for children born into poverty". It featured harsh images of newborn babies with a cockroach, syringe or bottle of methylated spirits protruding from their mouths.
The campaign attracted 466 complaints in all and prompted Barnado's to run further print ads apologising for any offence caused, but also defending the creative work.
Upholding a complaint that the ads were offensive, shocking and unduly distressing, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the ads were "likely to cause serious or widespread offence". It ordered Barnardo's not to repeat the campaign.
A second complaint that the ads were irresponsible and could be copied by children was not upheld.
Diana Green, Barnardo's director of communications, said that the charity was unhappy with the ASA's adjudication.
"We're quite upset and disappointed by the adjudication. We worked closely with the Committee on Advertising Practice in advance and, although it can only give guidance, we received a lot more complaints than we expected," she said.
She added that the charity was still pleased with the campaign and had seen an upsurge in interest, receiving six times the donations previous campaigns have attracted and double the normal number of hits it receives on its website.
"We're pleased we had the debate about poverty as there was a lot of apathy and disbelief associated with the issue beforehand,' Green said.
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