The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the ad advisory body, has been forced to publish an “unreserved apology” to children’s charity Barnardo’s after urging newspapers to boycott its controversial ad campaign.
CAP told newspapers not to run the campaign, which depicted children in adult situations, including a baby apparently injecting heroin. The Mail pulled the ad before the CAP issued its advice and the Telegraph did so afterwards. Neither publication has reinstated the campaign, according to Barnardo’s.
Simon Gallant, the IPA’s legal adviser and representative on the CAP committee, believes CAP should not have intervened in the Barnardo’s row. “As the rule-maker, it is not CAP’s role to interpose in adjudications in this way.
“It should have made a complaint to the ASA, which has the job of enforcing the rules.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected all 28 complaints about the campaign. The complainants felt the ads were shocking and offensive, but the ASA ruled Barnardo’s “had intended to convey a serious and important message”.
According to the ASA’s annual report, complaints about outdoor advertising rocketed by 32 per cent last year, fuelled by shock tactics used in cable TV channels and dot-com ads.
Complaints about posters rose from 1,890 in 1998 to 2,493 in 1999, with just six ads accounting for 40 per cent of all complaints. Complaints were upheld about Cable channel Bravo’s poster for the Howard Stern Show, and a Stafford-Miller ad, which carried the line: “I like my men rough not my legs.”
German media giant Bertelsmann’s online bookshop, BOL.com, received the most complaints 312 for an ad featuring a naked couple, but it was ruled unlikely to cause widespread offence.