Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Sir Bobby strikes again in ad row

Sir Bobby Charlton
The advert shows that at 70, Sir Bobby Charlton remains in fine fettle

A Welsh community council has called foul on an advert showing England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton walking a dog on playing fields.

Councillors at Y Ferwig near Cardigan in Ceredigion said the advert for drinking yogurt Actimel encouraged dog walking in areas used by children.

But the Advertising Standards Authority said it did not condone bad behaviour.

The clerk said councillors did not want the advert banned, but just wanted to raise awareness of fouling problems.

The advert shows the Manchester United legend, who is England's record goalscorer, with 49 from 106 appearances, taking a dog for a walk across a playing field.

He stops to retrieve a ball for a group of children who are playing football. He then takes aim and fires the ball back into the goal, showing that despite his advancing years, he is in good shape.

However, Y Ferwig councillors felt it was "irresponsible" to show him walking the dog on the playing field at all.

"It was an observation really, we wrote to the advertising standards because there is such a problem with dog fouling on playing fields," said council clerk Brian Gooch.

Sir Bobby Charlton from the Actimel advert
We wrote to the advertising standards because there is such a problem with dog fouling on playing fields
Brian Gooch, Y Ferwig community council

"We did not want the advert banned, but the first few minutes could be cut off so that the dog is not shown at all," he added.

Mr Gooch said there was a huge problem with dog fouling on playing fields, and people were quick to complain if a child fell into the mess.

'No dogs'

"We wanted to attract attention to the problem.

"There are only two dog wardens in the whole of Ceredigion and they put up 'no dogs' signs, but people don't take any notice.

"If someone spots a dog foul the owner will quickly get a bag out of their pocket, but if there is no-one around they will ignore it," he added.

Trevor Datson, external communications director at Danone UK - which produce Actimel - said the company "fully supports the Welsh residents in their endeavours to clean-up the habit of dog fouling in their parks and playing fields".

"Our advertisement for Actimel shows children enjoying a healthy outdoor pursuit, as well as Sir Bobby Charlton's continued fitness, and in no way condones irresponsible dog ownership," he said.

Mr Datson added that during filming, measures were taken to "ensure that the sanitation of the park, including the playing field, was well maintained".

"The dog's handler was also present at all times to ensure an appropriate clean-up operation."

A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority said an assessment was made of the advert as a whole and also individual elements such as the dog being walked near the pitch in case it "condoned bad behaviour".

The decision was however that there was no cause to take the matter further.

She added: "The Advertising Standards Authority is not investigating the recent ad for Actimel as, after careful consideration, we do not believe that the ad risks encouraging or condoning the practice of walking dogs on playing fields.

"The dog is incidental to the theme of this ad and is not shown encroaching upon the pitch where the children are playing football."

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