Tramadol Nights’ ‘Fuzzy Felt’ ad escapes censure

An outdoor advertising campaign for comedian Frankie Boyle’s controversial show Tramadol Nights has been cleared by the ad watchdog of causing offence or distress.

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The campaign for the Channel 4 show, which itself is the subject of an Ofcom review after viewer complaints, used writing and imagery in the style of children’s toy Fuzzy Felt. It included pictures of a badger firing a machine gun, two rabbits fighting with hypodermic needles and an animal holding a chainsaw.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints from people saying the use of Fuzzy Felt animals was likely to appeal to young children and images of drugs and violence could cause them distress.

Other complainants felt that the ad was irresponsible because it could encourage drug abuse and that it was offensive to place violence in the context of a child’s toy.

Channel 4 defended the ad and said that it featured animals rather than humans and was designed to be comedic and surreal rather than a realistic depiction of violent or criminal behaviour.

The broadcaster argued that the “specific tone” of the ad would not be attractive to children and the post-watershed nature of the programme was clearly signalled.

The ASA said that though the ad appeared in an untargeted medium and featured brightly coloured animals, the imagery was “stylised and fantasy-like” and unlikely to cause harm or distress to children.

The ad regulator also said that the stylised and surreal imagery meant the campaign avoided glamorising or condoning drug use or causing serious offence.

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