The Scout Association said it would be better to celebrate youth workers
An advert showing a scout leader as a nerd without friends was pulled by a phone company after complaints from the Scout Association, the BBC has learned.
The association said it had been "deluged" with complaints from members over the ad, which shows a scout leader as grumpy, balding and with glasses.
The association said it had written to Phones4u and lawyers had said they would have grounds to pursue the case.
On Monday Phones4u apologised, pulled the ad, and said no offence was meant.
Simon Carter, head of communications at the Scout Association, told the BBC: "We've been deluged by our members saying we are very unhappy about this.
"As much as anything the basis of the ad says scout leaders don't have any friends, but we've had the largest yearly increase in adults wanting to work as scout leaders since 1985.
"The best way of looking at issues like this is to celebrate the good work adults do with young people, rather than sniping at them, and clearly the advert is a snipe."
He said some 2,800 more scout leaders had joined over the past year, and that there are 100,000 adults in the organisation and just under 500,000 youth members.
Mr Carter said he did not know exactly how many people had complained, but said he had received 50 emails and would have been one of many people within the organisation to have received complaints.
He added that he doubted a negative campaign was the best way to appeal to the phone company's customers.
The advert depicts a dishevelled scout leader, with a caption underneath that reads: "You might be good with knots. You might be good with children. But there's no way you've got 50 friends in your phone."
A Phones4u spokeswoman said they had in no way intended to make fun of the scouting community and were "quite surprised" by the reaction to the advert.
She said: "We truly respect the time and effort the Scout Association invest in the youth of today and the difference it makes to many children's lives.
"We meant to cause no offence through placement of this ad and intentionally represented an out-of-date image of a scout leader rather than a contemporary one, so as to imply that this was not to be taken literally."
The advert has been taken out of London's Metro free newspaper, but Phones4u said it would still run in "a couple of monthly magazines" because they had already gone to print.