ITC upholds complaints against 'hospital' spot for Virgin Mobile

The Independent Television Commission has ruled that Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's "hospital" spot for Virgin Mobile could be construed as mocking people with mental-health problems and has ruled that it be withdrawn from transmission.

The 60- and 30-second spots, promoting Virgin Mobile's text-messaging service, showed pyjama-clad patients engaged in unproductive activities, such as stapling a nurse's dress to a table and playing with a light switch, to kill time.

Forty-nine viewers complained that the ads offered an outdated image of people with mental-health problems, promoting the view that such patients were dangerous.

RKCR/Y&R said that it had not intended to cause offence and that it had endeavoured to portray a general hospital environment. Virgin Mobile also argued that it had commissioned pre-launch research to judge reactions among people who work in mental-health care.

Saatchi & Saatchi's Toyota Corolla "key party" spot was also investigated by the ITC after it attracted 216 viewer complaints.

The ad showed a wife-swapping party with women picking partners from car keys in a glass bowl. When it comes to the turn of an overweight woman to choose, the men appear uncomfortable. However, when the large woman picks the keys to a Toyota Corolla they all stand up.

The complainants said that it gave a negative portrayal of overweight women but the ITC found that it was essentially light-hearted and the complaints were not upheld.