ASA rejects Barnardo's ad complaints

Advertising regulator rules shock campaign justified

Complaints about a hard-hitting Barnardo's television advert have been rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority.

477 people complained to the advertising regulator that the recent advert from the children's charity was distressing, offensive or unsuitable for children.

The watchdog ruled that the purpose of the ad, which was to raise awareness of domestic child abuse and understanding of its cyclical nature, justified the shock that viewers might feel. It also noted that the ad was broadcast only after 9pm.

The ad begins with two teenagers fighting outside a shop while a customer and the shopkeeper look on. The scene then cuts to a teenage girl behind a prison door; then to her sitting at a kitchen table where a man slaps her on the back of her head, calling her a "worthless little cow". She is then shown in a classroom struggling to read, and finally in a deserted setting having used drugs.

The last four scenes alternate repeatedly at increasing speed. The text reads: "For thousands of children in the UK the story will keep repeating itself, until someone stops it".

Diana Tickell, director of communications at Barnardo's, said the charity consulted Clearcast, the company licensed by communications regulator Ofcom to clear TV ads, before launching the campaign.

"We are delighted that the ASA has supported our decision to use a hard-hitting advertisement to highlight the vicious cycle of deprivation, exclusion, abuse and crime, which is the greatest threat to the most vulnerable children across the UK," she said.

The 60-second TV advert will continue to run until 21 December.

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