ASA bans 'racist' campaign by Kids Company

Advertising watchdog rules poster adverts were likely to reinforce negative stereotypes of black teenagers

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertising campaign by children's charity Kids Company after ruling the campaign was racist and misleading.

Three complaints were made about the poster campaign, which featured black teenagers harassing a white man. The adverts also claimed violent youths had smaller, less developed brains than people from 'normal' backgrounds as a result of neglect and abuse.

The ASA ruled one advert in the campaign was "likely to cause serious offence because it featured only black teenagers" and another "focused on a negative image of black teenagers that was likely to reinforce negative stereotypes and was therefore racist".

The regulator also ruled that the evidence the charity produced did not substantiate its claim that violence was linked to brain size. The charity has been told not to reproduce the adverts in their current form.

In response to the complaints, Kids Company told the ASA that 80 per cent of the children that came to the charity for help were from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds and the ratio was reflected across the campaign.

A spokeswoman for the charity told Third Sector its aim was to challenge prejudice towards vulnerable young people. She said Kids Company's beneficiaries had endorsed the campaign, but the charity would consider the complaints in its future work.

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