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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 12:51 GMT
Drivers warned over lingerie ads
Adverts are designed to be eyecatching
Road safety experts say there is a danger of drivers being distracted by a series of billboard advertisements for lingerie that have sprung up in London and other major cities.

Many of the ads for the Sloggi range of lingerie are situated on tight bends or at roundabouts say roads watchdogs who fear a raft of complaints.

As drivers people have to be aware. We all find different things attractive, some people would stare at an advert of a car or something else.

Roger Vincent
RoSPA
Roger Vincent, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "Whenever these appear we have received complaints. It happened with the Wonderbra ads and it also happened with some of the billboards advertising lapdancing clubs."

The company behind the adverts say the whole point of advertising is to be "eye-catching".

Sue Loder - spokeswoman for Swindon-based underwear maker Triumph - which owns Sloggi - said: "We did run them past the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who gave them the go ahead.

"The whole point is to capture your attention without overstepping the boundaries of taste. We would be distraught if they were found to be distracting drivers and leading to accidents."

Complaint

All billboards must get planning permission, and local authorities are supposed to bear in mind the possibility of drivers being distracted.

Wonderbra ad
In 1998 the Wonderbra ad caused a similar controversy
A spokeswoman for Hounslow Council, one of those which has Sloggi ads beside its roads, said: "I have seen these ads and remember thinking 'Gosh!'."

But she said once permission for a billboard was given the posters which were put up were not a matter for the council.

The Advertising Standards Agency said there had only been one complaint about the Sloggi ad, and that was by someone claiming it was demeaning to women.

The ASA was only able to order the removal of billboards if they were derogatory or offensive, misleading or socially divisive, and the matter of road safety was beyond its remit, it said.

The company that bought the space for the ads - BJK&E - said one had been vandalised by feminist protesters in the Euston area but otherwise there had been no complaints.

'Drivers must be aware'

RoSPA raised the issue of distracting billboards a couple of years ago when an electronic "scrolling" billboard showed a women stripping off her clothes.

The adverts will come down some time in January
"In that case it took 11 seconds for the whole advert to unfold, so we felt there was a serious risk of distraction," said Mr Vincent.

"As drivers people have to be aware. We all find different things attractive, some people would stare at an advert of a car or something else.

"You could be far more distracted by an attractive woman walking along the pavement.

"But having said that, if there is any proof that these things are distracting people then perhaps the planners need to look at that."

See also:

30 Oct 02 | England
24 Dec 02 | UK
12 Aug 98 | Health
30 May 02 | England
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