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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Power ads spark storm
npower poster
Hair today: The photo featured in the ginger ad
An advertisement for a power utility depicting a man peering into his boxer shorts has become the second poster in the campaign to be investigated by watchdogs.

Electricity and gas company npower attracted protests for using a photograph of a ginger-haired family with the slogan: "There are some things in life you can't choose."

But now the Advertising Standards Authority has said it has received more complaints about a companion poster featuring a man staring down the front of his underpants.

Investigation under way

An ASA spokesman said investigations were under way, but neither poster would be banned unless it was deemed to have caused serious offence.

npower ad
This poster has attracted 32 complaints to the ASA

He said: "The balance has to be, does the humour outweigh any potential offence that might be caused?

"We won't take any decision unless we believe it's likely to cause serious and widespread offence."

The boxer shorts ad, which is being accused of crudeness, has so far prompted 32 formal complaints, whereas the ginger family has attracted 19 for alleged insensitivity.

In a statement, npower said it needed a hard-hitting campaign to alert potential customers to the fact they can now shop around for power companies.

The 6m campaign was created by TBWA, the company behind the Wonderbra ads featuring the slogan "Hello Boys".

'Rigorous research'

In its defence, npower said "rigourous national customer research" had shown the advertisements "were enjoyed and understood by a broad cross-section of the population".

Of the ginger poster, it said: "We apologise if the campaign has caused any distress."

Referring to the boxer shorts poster, it added: "We understand people may be sensitive about their body shape and size, and in no way do we wish to upset people.

"We believe the advert stays within the realms of decency."

See also:

16 Apr 00 | UK
Redheads riled by adverts
31 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Poster ad complaints rise
21 Jan 00 | e-cyclopedia
Shockvertising: Ads that divide
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