Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) president Rupert Howell has denied scoring an own-goal over advertising to children after his agency HHCL & Partners was forced to drop the controversial ad for soft drink Tango.
The ad, which features a gang of ginger-haired middle-aged men mercilessly taunting a fat youth through orange Tango megaphones, has been slammed by campaigners for encouraging bullying in schools.
The ad was pulled last week after more than 65 complaints flooded into the Independent Television Commission (ITC). It will be replaced by a less inflammatory execution, hastily shot over the weekend.
In 1992, HHCL & Partners was forced to withdraw another ad for Tango, which showed an Orange genie slapping someone across the face. Howell denies the row over the new ad has damaged the IPA’s high-profile campaign against a ban on advertising to children.
“This proves that self-regulation works. The ITC has raised concerns and we have obliged them by taking the ads off the air. If we didn’t have self-regulation we would be going through the courts by now.”
A spokeswoman for the Anti-Bullying Campaign says: “The ad is in very poor taste. Bullying is already rife in schools and this is likely to incite more trouble.”
Howell says: “I am not denying that concerns raised about the ad are legitimate, but there hasn’t been one incident of children copying it.”
He claims the ad is aimed at children over the age of 12, so does not fall within the definition of “advertising to children” put forward by the Swedish government, which is expected to push for a ban on advertising to children when it assumes the presidency of the European Union next year.