Reebok pulls ad alleged to glamorise gun crime

Reebok has withdrawn an advert from British television screens after campaign group Mothers Against Guns claimed that it glamorises gun crime.

In the controversial advert starring 50 Cent, a shot is heard as the rapper counts up to nine - the number of times he was shot in 2000. He asks: "Who you planning to massacre next?" then laughs before Reebok's slogan "I am what I am" appears.

But Lucy Cope, whose 22-year-old son Damian was shot dead three years ago in London, was so outraged by the advert that she launched a campaign with Mothers Against Guns to ban it.

Cope's efforts prompted 50 people to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. The authority is still investigating, but Reebok has decided to withdraw the advert voluntarily from UK television.

Cope described how she felt when she saw the ad: "I felt physically sick; my heart stopped. Kids look up to 50 Cent. They think if it's cool for him, it's cool for them. No one involved in gun crime is a hero. I wish Damian could have survived nine bullets. But one took his life."

Anti-gun charity the Disarm Trust condemned the advert as "irresponsible and despicable". Chairman Bill Brown accused Reebok of "preying on impressionable young black males".

However, Reebok will continue to show the advert elsewhere around the world. A spokeswoman said: "The advert reflects the facts of 50 Cent's life - it refers to what he has had to overcome to reach his iconic status. This is a positive call to our audience - whoever or wherever you are, you can achieve."

Cope has also been calling on people to boycott Reebok's merchandise until it issues an apology. Reebok added that it has a history of philanthropy through its Human Rights Award programme, set up in 1988.

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