ASA permits hard-hitting Madeleine McCann ads

Hard-hitting ads highlighting the plight of missing Madeleine McCann and for children’s charity Barnardo’s have escaped censure by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA said a cinema ad featuring four-year-old Madeleine, who went missing in Portugal in May, could be broadcast after investigating complaints from parents that the ad was distressing for children and objections to it being shown during children’s films.

The ad, made by The Framestore, was shown before U-rated film Shrek the Third to raise awareness of her disappearance and keep her picture in the media.

The ASA rejected complaints because the ad was intended to maintain the public’s awareness of the plight of Madeleine. It added that it highlighted a “widely publicised” news story and the majority of people who saw the ad, including some children, would be aware of the story and understand the importance of the issues.

The UK’s big three chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue withdrew the ad last month.

A press ad for Barnardo’s, which ran in The Times and The Telegraph, showing the image of a young boy’s face with copy using the words “f**k off” has also been cleared by the ASA.

Complainants said the bad language in the ads was offensive but the ASA ruled it was intentionally hard hitting and added it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of either paper.

Meanwhile, the regulator has partly upheld complaints about a national press campaign for budget airline Ryanair. The ASA ruled its claims that “Brussels Faster and Cheaper” and “More punctual” were misleading. It has instructed Ryanair to remove such claims from similar ads.

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