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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 02:29 GMT 03:29 UK
Barclays bee sting advert banned
A scene from the advert
The man in the advert is shot with a tranquiliser dart then arrested
A Barclays bank advert showing a man suffering a bad reaction to a bee sting has been withdrawn for causing offence and distress to people with allergies.

More than 290 viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying the TV commercial made light of a potentially fatal condition.

Nearly 100 complainants said they had been distressed because they or their loved ones suffered from allergies.

Barclays has apologised and made a donation to an allergies charity.

The bank, which withdrew the advert following the complaints but before the ASA ruling, said it was a light-hearted attempt to show people were more likely to be arrested abroad than to change their bank account.

Despite the farcical turn of events, the ad was offensive to them
ASA spokesman

It showed a man's face swelling up after being stung by a bee in his drink can.

He ran to a lake to cool down, fell in the water and emerged covered in weeds and howling in pain. As he ran to a restaurant, scaring diners with his appearance, police shot him with a tranquiliser dart before arresting him.

A voice-over then said: "Statistically you're more likely to be arrested than change your bank account."

More than 20 people complained they or someone they knew had nearly died from an adverse reaction like the one shown.

The ASA said it should not be screened again.

The industry watchdog said: "We noted that many people face the reality that they might suffer a severe allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting and therefore, despite the farcical turn of events, the ad was offensive to them."


The commercial breached the advertising code of practice because it caused distress to "a significant number" of viewers who had experienced a bee sting allergy, the ASA found.

The commercial had a broadcast restriction which meant it could not be shown around programmes aimed at children.

Seven viewers said their children were scared by the commercial, while 12 described the advert as "horrific" and unsuitable for television without further restrictions.

The ASA did not uphold these complaints, or those of seven more viewers who said the commercial reminded them of either "happy slapping" or alleged soldier activity in the Iraq war.

A Barclays spokesman said: "The advert was intended to convey in a light hearted manner that statistically you are more likely to be arrested abroad, following a bizarre turn of events, rather than change your bank account."

The bank donated money to the Anaphylaxis Campaign - which helps those with life-threatening allergies - "as a gesture of goodwill".

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