The Metro press ad was devised to promote the dating show Dating in the Dark. The text on a dark background read “How do you spot a ginger in the dark?… looks or personality, who wins?”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received three complaints that the ad was prejudiced against ginger people because it implied that they were unattractive.
VMtv said that the ad was designed to reflect show participants’ comments and emotions. It said that the programme’s premise was to challenge perceptions of attractiveness and encourage decisions based on personalities, as well as looks. Other ads had lines such as “When the lights come on I just hope I haven’t been kissing Shrek”.
The broadcaster also argued that the use of quotation marks were used to show the statement was made by a participant and not the view of the advertiser. It said that it was not going to use the ad again in the future.
Metro added that it believed that its readers would not have misunderstood the ad and would not have been offended by it.
The ASA said that it was unclear that the line “How do you spot a ginger in the dark? was the view of a show participant and that the text was likely to be interpreted as suggesting people with ginger hair were unattractive. It ruled that the ad was likely to cause serious offence.