Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Policeman's Lot Is Not a Happy One

The Advertising Standards Authority has sided with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents over an advertisement run by the National Policing Improvement Agency intended to recruit new special constables. It showed a police officer entering a shop with a sign that read "sweets, mags, drugs" and read "It's your community. See what's really happening." The NFRN complained that the advertisement was "offensive and misleading because it implied that small newsagents were involved in the drugs industry". Said the ASA,

[T]he aim of the ad was to encourage the recruitment of Special Constables to the police service, and that the role required local knowledge, alongside an ability to look beyond first impressions and not to assume things within a community were always as they seemed.

We acknowledged that the inclusion of a newsagents shop in the ad was meant to represent a familiar aspect of the local community which might be hiding criminality behind a respectable front.  We considered, however, that some people would interpret the ad as suggesting that small or local newsagents were likely to be involved in the drugs industry.   Because of that, we concluded that the ad might mislead or cause offence.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 5.1 (Decency) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Read the entire ruling here.

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