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Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK


Spotlight on 'offensive' ads

Not upheld: Complaints about Gossard

Adverts that have offended Christians, alluded to drugs, and depicted toy rabbits being run over have been pulled.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against a paper manufacturer which used images of Jesus Christ to help sell its wares.

A total of 124 people objected to the ad., making it the most complained about yet this year.

[ image: References to Dunblane upset many who saw this ad]
References to Dunblane upset many who saw this ad
Hertfordshire company Rey and Company, withdrew the ad. after the ASA ruled that the slogan "Feel the power of his love - or hers", was "likely to cause serious or widespread offence".

Spokesman for the Church of England, Steve Jenkins, said: "The use of religious imagery can act as a form of evangelism but when it is used in a mocking sense it is a problem."

Manufacturers of the perfume Fusion, Elida Faberge, also came under fire for linking their product with drugs.

A magazine advert said: "Oi! Where's My Fusion Wrap?", showing a piece of folded paper, similar to that used to hold amphetamine powder.

When unfolded the paper read: "Fusion. The only thing worth sniffing in a club", and contained white powder impregnated with the perfume.

Among the complaints received was one from the government's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drugs Misuse.

The complaint was upheld.

[ image: Got it covered - but some wanted to get it out of magazines]
Got it covered - but some wanted to get it out of magazines
Elida Faberge said in a statement: "Fusion fragrance is a brand which operates largely in the club scene and this one-off advertisement appeared in four magazines read by clubbers.

"It was intended to promote Fusion fragrance but in no way was it intended to condone illegal activity."

A toy fluffy bunny being hit by an Audi car attracted 108 complaints.

A spokesman from the ASA said: "Media-aware people may have made the connection with the Duracell advert.

[ image: Complaints against French Connection for 'swearing' were upheld]
Complaints against French Connection for 'swearing' were upheld
"But many people were upset at the depiction of a hit and run involving a children's toy, and we decided to uphold that aspect of the complaint."

Another campaign to cause offence featured a statue of the Virgin Mary with young women dressed as nuns wearing the advertisers' jeans.

This prompted nearly 100 complaints of offence to the ASA. These complaints against Lee Jeans were also upheld.

Research carried out by the ASA shows that swearing and rude gestures are more likely to cause offence than using sexy images of men and women.

Almost a fifth of 1,000 people polled could not even bring themselves to look at a list of potentially offensive swear words.

'Won't follow public opinion blindly'

According to Caroline Crawford, of the ASA, said: "More surprisingly perhaps was the 30% who also found damn to be completely unacceptable.

"We conduct this research to gauge how closely in line the ASA's decisions are with public opinion because it alters all the time and we want to make sure that we roughly reflect the prevalent trends.

"But we make our decisions in context and won't just follow public opinion blindly."

Steve Ballinger, a spokesperson for the ASA said : "One of the main culprits for this year was the French Connection campaign FCUK.

"A number of people were offended by this ad and the majority of complaints were upheld."

Nearly three-quarters of people quizzed said they were offended at the way women were portrayed as sex objects.

In 1996 the figure was just 64%.

And the number of people offended by the portrayal of men as sex objects leapt from 41 to 53%.

Ms Crawford said the ASA has noted an apparent return to more traditional attitudes.

She said: "It is clear that people are becoming more concerned about standards, especially with regard to billboards which young children see regularly."

Most complained about ads of 1997

  • Gun Control Network 94 complaints not upheld

  • Lee Apparel Ltd 89 complaints not upheld

  • Vegetarian Society 65 complaints upheld

  • Gun Control Network 56 complaints not upheld

  • Stateside Laboratories Inc 47 complaints upheld

  • Peugot Motor Company 46 complaints not upheld

  • Gossard (Holdings) Ltd 36 complaints not upheld

  • French Connection Group 27 complaints upheld

  • Morris International Claim Bureau 26 complaints upheld

  • QMS (UK) Ltd 24 complaints not upheld

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