Barnardo’s has been banned from using its most recent shock advertising campaign, featuring children with cockroaches and syringes in their mouths. The ad attracted 465 complaints, making it the most complained about campaign of the year (MW last week).
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has censured the children’s charity for being offensive. The campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, was intended to highlight the problem of child poverty in the UK.
The children’s charity was forced to defend the shock tactics in a full-page letter in the national press, following a storm of protests (MW November 27). It had to pull the ads from The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday and replace them with a letter signed by chief executive Roger Singleton. However, the controversial images still appeared in The Guardian, Observer and The Independent.
One of the executions featured a child with a bottle of methylated spirits in its mouth.
This is not the first time that the charity has faced condemnation for its shock advertising tactics. Last year’s campaign, focusing on child prostitution, also attracted public complaints. But the ads, which showed young children with grotesquely aged and worn-out faces, escaped the ASA’s censure.
In 2001 Barnado’s featured pictures of dead people who had committed suicide as adults following childhood abuse or neglect. The ASA did not uphold complaints at the time.