Irn-Bru ad banned for insulting transsexuals

Ofcom has banned The Leith Agency's TV spot for Irn-Bru from future transmission following complaints from transsexuals. However, McCann Erickson's ad for Walls Cornetto escaped censure, despite offending the same minority group.

The Irn-Bru ad, set in a 50s household, shows a mother playing the piano and singing about how much she enjoys Irn-Bru. The woman ends the song with the line: "... even though I used to be a man." The final scene is of the woman having a shave.

Ofcom received 17 complaints, some of which were from transsexuals. Leith argued that Irn-Bru's advertising strategy had always been about irreverence, but the ad was not designed to offend and that the mother was proud of her transsexuality.

Despite agreeing with the BACC that part of the joke was the incongruity of a 50s family and transsexual mothers, Ofcom ruled that the final scene was offensive and banned the ad.

Twelve viewers, including some of the transsexuals who protested about Irn-Bru, complained about McCann's spot for Cornetto.

The ad shows a woman trying to persuade her male friend to hand over his Cornetto. The man asks what's in it for him, and the woman replies: "I'm a man, surprise, surprise, give me Cornetto and I won't tell the guys."

McCann said that the overriding strategy of the campaign was to depict Cornetto in contemporary love scenes and Ofcom ruled that the transsexual woman was positively portrayed and the ad was therefore acceptable for broadcast.

Mother's TV ad for Boots' Soltan was banned from transmission for making the claim that it was "the only five-star UVA protection" following complaints from its competitors that this was untrue.

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