ASA clears Diabetes UK assassin campaign

Advertising unlikely to cause distress, says watchdog

The Advertising Standards Authority has cleared a Diabetes UK advert that prompted 16 complaints.

The charity ran a series of press and poster adverts featuring the disease as a ‘silent assassin' that could cause serious conditions, such as heart disease and kidney failure. They showed people with diabetes being pursued by a shadowy figure, with large text saying "Diabetes. Beware the silent assassin". Smaller text said "Learn how to beat it", and featured the name of the charity.

Among the complaints was one from the Meadows Association of Diabetes, a Nottingham-based support group for diabetics. Complainants said the adverts were distressing, particularly to children who had the disease or whose parents did. They also said the adverts were misleading because they failed to distinguish between the different types of diabetes.

However, the ASA investigation concluded that the campaign was not in breach of advertising guidelines and no further action was necessary.

"We considered that the ads were unlikely to cause fear or distress to people with diabetes who led healthy lifestyles, were aware of the risks of their condition and were managing their diabetes properly," the ASA's adjudication report said.

Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "The ASA considered all aspects of our Silent Assassin advertisements and understood why the various images and text were used. The campaign aimed to inform people with diabetes that a healthy lifestyle can reduce their risk of developing serious diabetes complications."

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