Children’s groups blast chat site ads

NCH and Childnet International brand teen site ad campaign as ‘irresponsible’.

BSkyB and Freeserve-backed teenage girls’ Internet portal has been condemned as “irresponsible” for an advertising campaign which is designed to attract male users to the site’s chat rooms.

Children’s charity NCH and Internet safety group Childnet International say the campaign’s blatant sexual innuendo will drive older men, possibly paedophiles, to the site.

The ad campaign in December issues of lads’ mags Match, Nintendo and Computer & Video Games carries the straplines “Looking to score? Get in training now” and “Go on a hot date with 15 girls”. The ads aim to drive teen boys to chat online with girls.

The recent conviction at Aylesbury Crown Court of a 33-year-old paedophile who, pretending to be a 15-year-old boy in an Internet chat room, lured a 13-year-old girl to his home for sex, exposed the dangers of chat rooms.

Childnet International director Nigel Williams says: “The campaign is irresponsible. It is a direct incitement to talk about sex online. There is a danger it will encourage older men.”

But’s commercial and marketing director Charlie Redmayne says the chatrooms are constantly monitored “to prevent obscenities, the exchange of personal information and users arranging to meet.” was launched by Redmayne and chief executive Shaa Wasmund, founder of PR agency Nautilus Communications backed by investors BSkyB, Freeserve and venture capitalist fund ThinkVentures.

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