ASA bans Barnardo's baby ads

Barnardo's has been forbidden from repeating its controversial 'silver spoons' ad campaign after the Advertising Standards Authority judged it to be offensive.

The campaign, comprising images of a cockroach, a meths bottle and a syringe in babies' mouths, was the most complained about this year, attracting 461 complaints to the ASA. Some found the ads to be offensive, shocking and unduly distressing, especially to children, while others said they were irresponsible and could lead children to copy them.

The ASA said it "acknowledged the serious message of the ads" but considered that Barnardo's "used shocking images to attract attention and that the photographs were likely to cause serious or widespread offence". However, because the objects depicted in the babies' mouths were not easy for children to get hold of, they were unlikely to copy the pictures. "The ads did not condone or encourage unsafe practices and were not irresponsible", the ASA concluded.

A spokeswoman for Barnardo's said the campaign had run its course anyway, and the charity had no intention of repeating it.

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