Charity advert complaints soar

Figures in the latest report by the Advertising Standards Authority show that the number of complaints about charity advertising more than doubled in 2006.

NSPCC: Baby Names attracted the most complaints
NSPCC: Baby Names attracted the most complaints

There were 436 complaints about charity adverts in 2006, mostly categorised as "causing undue fear or distress", compared with 171 in 2005.

The NSPCC caused the highest number of complaints in the voluntary sector, with 73 objections logged about its Baby Names booklet.

The publication appeared to be a guide to choosing names for babies, but actually listed the names of dead babies who had been abused. The children's charity withdrew the booklet, although the ASA ruled that it did not breach its codes.

John Grounds, director of communications at the NSPCC, said: "The number of complaints about NSPCC advertising has actually gone down in the past year, and the ASA dismissed those complaints that were made."

Charities have been responsible for some of the most shocking advertisements in recent years, but for the second year running none appeared in the top 10 list of most-complained-about advertisers.

Donna Mitchell, press officer at the ASA, said: "Maybe adverts from the charity sector did not appear in the top 10, but that doesn't mean they aren't attracting complaints.

"There are still things the charity sector is doing that are causing people to complain. It's not right to think that all is well, because complaints are still there."

Mitchell said there had been a huge rise in the number of complaints about online advertising. Because online advertising is outside the ASA's remit, advertisers are often unaware that their material is generating complaints.

For example, a clip on Greenpeace's website featuring four-wheel-drive vehicles in an alternative motorshow generated 25 complaints for inciting hatred towards owners of four-by-fours. But the environmental charity said it was unaware of any complaints and it had not been contacted by the ASA.

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