Virgin ‘Apache’ ads trigger complaints to ASA

Virgin Trains’ new “Apache” television campaign – which features a warband of Native Americans attacking a Virgin Pendolino train – has triggered an avalanche of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority after being on TV screens and in cinemas for barely a week.

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Virgin Trains’ new “Apache” television campaign – which features a warband of Native Americans attacking a Virgin Pendolino train – has triggered an avalanche of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after being on TV screens and in cinemas for barely a week.

The Apaches are apparently trying to get onto the train to steal a notebook belonging to a man on board, in which he has been writing down his ideas. Various “comic” episodes ensue as the attack is thwarted, with a shower of arrows bouncing off and one brave clinging to the side of the train until being knocked off by a bridge. The ad – created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R – ends with the tagline “Man who go on big train have big idea”.

An ASA spokeswoman confirms the regulator has had a significant number of complaints from members of the public who say the ad is racist, culturally insensitive and trivialises Native American history. As yet, no decision has been taken on whether to launch a formal investigation.

The ASA also confirms that it is launching an official investigation into the latest Lynx Dry campaign. The ad – in which a man literally showers people with sweat every time he lifts his arms – has triggered a series of complaints (MW September 14). The ad was created by Lynx’s Argentinian agency VOP, and adapted for UK TV and cinema by Lowe London.

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