A Barclays television advertisement created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty has triggered a record number of complaints in its first week of broadcast, because it appears to make fun of someone suffering from anaphylactic shock.
The ad features a man on holiday running amok after being stung by a bee. The campaign for Barclays’ current account first aired this weekend and has already attracted 106 complaints.
The 30-second ad shows the man falling into a pond after being stung by a bee and then climbing out covered in weeds with a swollen face. Police are then called to shoot him with a tranquilliser dart. A voiceover says: “You are more likely to be arrested abroad than to change your current account.”
Some viewers have also complained that the ad could frighten children. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is investigating the complaints.
The ASA has rejected complaints against a poster ad for Headlines Books Publishing that showed two handguns pointing at each other with the tagline “Cop Killer or Killer Cop?”. The poster campaign attracted nine complaints.
The complainants claimed the ad was offensive and irresponsible.