Tasteless animal ads spark ASA complaints

An ad showing a Jersey cow apparently looking forward to being made into a beefburger attracted the highest number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority in 1998, in a year when complaints about taste and decency rose more than half.

The poster for Irn-Bru featured a cow with the words: “When I’m a burger, I want to be washed down with Irn-Bru.”

According to the ASA’s annual report released this week, the ad prompted 589 complaints but objections were not upheld.

Complaints about taste and decency in 1998 were up 58 per cent from 1,994 in 1997 to 3,156 last year. Objections about the portrayal of animals, including the Irn-Bru ad, attracted 860 complaints, superseding the portrayal of women which traditionally causes most offence.

Advertising which used religious imagery also proved a sensitive area, provoking 368 letters to the ASA.

An advertisement in The Times for a photographic series in The Sunday Times called Heavenly Bodies, which showed a young Raquel Welch in a leather bikini tied to a wooden cross, was the third most complained about ad, attracting 142 complaints after Irn-Bru and Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.

Pfizer’s ad for throat lozenges, which showed a tiger with its mouth around a man’s throat, coincided with the news story of the mauling of a circus trainer and attracted 171 complaints.

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