Media Law Prof Blog

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Louisiana State Univ.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Advertising Standards Authority Nixes Theater's Leaflet

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told the adventuresome Theatre de Cunt that it may not continue to distribute its ads for a new revue after an unhappy recipient lodged a complaint.

Complaint:

Objection to a leaflet for a stage play that was headlined "Theatre De Cunt". The text "Hitler Wrote 20 pops [sic] songs ... Have you heard them?" was superimposed onto a photograph of the smiling mouth of Tony Blair; a Hitler-style moustache was painted onto his upper lip. The warning "PARENTAL ADVISORY EXPLICIT LYRICS" was printed in the top right-hand corner. Text on the rear of the circular stated "Politics, Comedy, Hip hop, happy slaps ... and of course Hitler ... hence ... all the things you love". A photo of Tony Blair, with a Hitler moustache on his upper lip and a swastika on either side of his head, was printed under the text. The complainant objected that the circular was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children.

Complaint upheld
Theatre De Cunt (TDC) apologised for any offence the leaflet had caused. They said there was not a widespread distribution of the leaflet and they never intended it to come into contact with children. They said they would be more careful in future.

The White Bear Theatre informed us that they had provided a platform for the theatre company but had no input into the marketing material for the show or its distribution. They were uncomfortable with the design of the leaflet and had asked TDC to provide different artwork for display in the theatre.

We noted the leaflet had been posted through the complainant's letter box. We acknowledged that TDC had not intended to distribute the leaflet that way but nonetheless considered that, because the leaflet contained language and imagery that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, it was too explicit for general, untargeted distribution and unsuitable to be seen by children. We told TDC not to use the approach again.

The circular breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising), 5.1 (Decency) and 47.2 (Children).

Read a story in the Guardian (which provides a link to the objectionable ad). Here's a link to the ASA's ruling.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog/2006/01/advertising_sta.html

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