The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain claimed the campaign for the latest series of the documentary was “racist” and “portrayed gypsies and travellers in a negatively stereotypical way”.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled one ad, which featured a close-up of a young boy looking directly at camera by the strapline “Bigger, Fatter, Gypsier”, suggested gypsy or traveller boys were aggressive and was offensive to people in the community.
Another ad, which showed a girl of 15 heavily made up and wearing a low-cut top, depicted a child in an overtly sexual way, the ASA ruled.
The posters sparked 372 complaints when the campaign ran in January but the ASA ruled at the time there were no grounds to investigate. However, an independent review requested by the ITMB led to a formal investigation.
In its defence, Channel 4 said the ad featuring the boy was meant to demonstrate his “boisterous” nature. The girl in the ad was 16 by the time the campaign ran, the broadcaster added, and it did not believe the ad was sexually explicit.
David Enright, partner with the law firm that represented ITMB, Howe & Co Solicitors, says: “This is a stunning, landmark victory for travellers and gypsies, who are all too often portrayed negatively in the press and media. The billboard campaign was harmful to children and fell very short of the conduct required of any serious public broadcaster, especially when it depicted a Traveller child in a sexualised way.”
Complaints that other executions, including a man leading a horse across a field, stereotyped gypsies and travellers were rejected.