The ad campaign for the energy drink Red Devil, fronted by the former bad boy of football Vinnie Jones, is the most complained about ad this year, according to the latest report on TV advertising complaints.
The Independent Television Commission chalked up 390 complaints for the ad from viewers who felt it was in poor taste and could incite cruelty towards animals.
The ad, created by the marketing and brand consultancy Kunde & Co, shows Jones tending to his garden before he spots a hungry robin which is shedding tears over an empty feeder. The camera pans to Jones in the kitchen refilling the feeder and the robin flying towards it to stock up. The robin, however, crashes and it emerges that Jones has put the feeder behind the glass window in his kitchen. A voiceover says: 'Red Devil - you can always repent.'
The ITC decided not to uphold the volume of complaints logged, but it added the restriction that the ad could only be shown after 9pm. The advertising body had consulted with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to check that it did not feel there were any issues over emulation and causing harm to animals.
Commenting on the decision to allow the TV ad to continue, an ITC spokeswoman said: 'Given that this ad will be shown well after the watershed, there is not likely to be the issue of children being upset. We didn't feel there was a strong argument to take the ad off-air, which is a very serious step to take.'
Recent ads that have caused controversy include the campaign for Emap's Heat last year by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which drew 318 complaints because it depicted people covered in flames as they read the magazine. In 1998, an ad by St Luke's for Ikea, which suggested that money saved from making people redundant could be put towards nicer office furniture, clocked up 396 complaints.