Charity ads in complaints top 10

Two charity campaigns are among the Advertising Standards Authority's list of the 10 most complained-about adverts in 2007.

Complaints: BHF ad
Complaints: BHF ad

The watchdog received 122 complaints about a poster by the British Heart Foundation that showed a naked man cuddling a woman on a beach, making it seventh in the list. The ASA ruled against claims that the nudity was offensive.

A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad came in at number nine on the list, with 68 complaints. The ASA rejected complaints that the advert, which showed an overweight child eating a burger alongside the slogan "Feeding kids meat is child abuse", trivialised child abuse and misled people about obesity.

"The complaints certainly didn't harm our ads, but they were not manufactured to generate complaints," said Peta campaigner Bruce Friedrich. "Eating meat is likely to make your child fat and lethargic and lead to heart disease and cancer, so we're pleased the ASA upheld our right to tell people that."

David Barker, head of communications at the BHF, said that images needed to be arresting but shock for the sake of it was not clever.

Charities have not appeared in the ASA's list of 10 most complained-about adverts for two years. In 2004, the BHF appeared on it after complaints about its TV ad showing people smoking cigarettes that turned into arteries dripping fat. Ofcom, which regulated TV ads at the time, rejected some claims that it was distasteful.

In 2003, a Barnardo's newspaper ad received more complaints than any other national press campaign in the ASA's 40-year history. It showed a baby with a cockroach in its mouth with the slogan "there are no silver spoons for children born into poverty".

The ASA upheld complaints that the image was 'unduly shocking'.

ALSO ...

The ASA is inviting environmental campaigners, scientists and companies to battle it out over 'green' claims in advertising at a seminar in June.

The seminar is in response to a record number of complaints in 2007 about ads containing environmental claims. The regulatory body received 561 complaints about environmental claims in 410 ads, compared with 117 complaints about 83 ads the year before.

The ASA said 52 of the complaints came from named organisations but could not say how many were charities.

The claims most open to challenge are those that describe products as "carbon-neutral" or "carbon-negative", "100 per cent recycled" or "wholly sustainable", the ASA said.

In 2007, complaints made by environmentalists against ads by Shell, Ryanair, and Lexus were upheld. The ASA described these rulings as "benchmarks".

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