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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 13:54 GMT
BA drops Buddha advert
BA's reclining Buddha
BA said they carried out research before publication
By Alastair Lawson in Colombo

British Airways has announced that it will no longer be using an advert that depicts the Buddha on a reclining seat.

In a statement, the company said that it was sorry if the advert had caused any offence to its customers.

Arthur C Clarke
Arthur C Clarke: Advert would offend millions of Buddhists
The airline said the decision to drop the advert was made following a series of complaints.

One of them was from the prominent science fiction writer, Sir Arthur C Clarke, who lives in Sri Lanka.

The advert depicts a doleful looking Buddha when the passenger seat is in the upright position - but a smiling Buddha once the seat has reclined.

"It was certainly not the intention of the airline to cause offence to any of its customers or members of the community in which it operates," BA said in a statement.

Sir Arthur wrote to the company last month to say that the images - which he saw in an edition of the New Scientist magazine - would upset millions of Buddhists throughout the world, especially in countries like Sri Lanka which is predominantly Buddhist.

In a letter written to Sir Arthur, BA said that they had listened to his complaints concerning the advert and decided to drop it.

Research done

BA said that the decision to publish the advert was taken after research in Britain and in three other markets.

The company said that it had also carried out a consultation with two Buddhist organisations and with the British Advertising Authorities who had all given positive responses.

In an interview with the BBC after the BA announcement, Sir Arthur said he was glad the airline had taken its decision, but he said that he was amazed that the company hadn't realised beforehand how much offence the advert would cause.

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