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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Advert's Franco pun causes upset
General Franco
Spain's Embassy is not amused at the Franco association
An advert for a college course guide has upset people by using a pun involving the former Spanish fascist dictator, General Francisco Franco.

The Advertising Standards Authority is investigating the advert appearing on Tube trains in London, and which has been denounced by the Spanish Embassy as "tasteless" and out of touch.

It is part of a campaign for the Hotcourses guide, and refers to courses in French and Spanish.

The copy adds: "So something for the Francophile (or even the General Franco-phile)."

A spokesman for the Spanish Embassy said the former dictator was not a suitable subject for advertising jokes.

"We don't think this advert is tasteful," he said.

"Franco died nearly 30 years ago and we don't think now is the right time to remind us of him and bring up his evil acts.

"We're a modern European country and we have come a long way. The last thing we want is to be associated with Franco."

'No offence intended'

Hotcourses' managing director, Mike Elms, said the adverts were in no way intended to be offensive or to upset anybody.

"I suppose they may be taken badly and we're very sorry if they have been."

But it was too late to withdraw them.

"The campaign ends at the end of the week," he said. "It would not be worth our while to do it."

A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority said it had received complaints.

"People seem to believe the reference to Franco is offensive because he's a fascist dictator who killed a lot of people," she said.

Country profile: Spain
29 May 03  |  Country profiles

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