Guardian 'calf' ads win ITC acceptance despite complaints

Despite attracting more than 50 complaints, BMP DDB's series of Disneyesque ads for The Guardian were deemed acceptable by the Independent Television Commission.

The ads, entitled "calf", for The Guardian's guide to the new football season featured an animated sequence in which a calf said to its mother: "Mama, what'll happen to me when I go to the golden pasture in the sky?"

One version of the ad then cuts to footage of a meat pie being eaten by a football fan. In a longer version, the calf's mother replied: "Well. Your shoulders and ribs will go to the nice big supermarket ... and your tongue and your legs to that lovely local organic butcher ..."

The calf then asked: "But Mama, what about my testicles?" The shot then cuts to the footage of the pie being eaten by the football fan.

The ad attracted 58 complaints from viewers who found the juxtaposition of sentimental animation with the image of the pie to be in bad taste and offensive to animal lovers. Twelve complainants were particularly concerned about the impact the ad could have on children, while 15 were offended by the reference to testicles.

In order to restrict the ad from programmes that attract children, the BACC had given the shorter version of the ad an ex-kids restriction and the longer version that used the word "testicles" approval for transmission only after the watershed. While the ITC accepted that the ads would not be to every viewer's taste, in light of the restrictions, it concluded that they were fit for broadcast.

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