Review of the Year: The ads that rocked rather than shocked

Dominic Wood

The first charity ad of 2004 was probably the most successful. When the British Heart Foundation screened its fat-dripping cigarette on national TV from 1 January, people across the UK began gagging on their cornflakes and giving up their cigarettes.

The Give Up Before You Clog Up campaign drove 27,000 calls to the charity's 'quitline'. By last month, the multi-media campaign had achieved 99 per cent audience recognition, and 94 per cent of the public now recognise the link between smoking and clogged arteries, compared with 82 per cent in November 2003.

Charities generally resisted the temptation to run shock ads this year.

Nothing caused outrage like the most complained-about ads of the past two years: Barnardo's Silver Spoon campaign showing cockroaches in children's mouths and the BHF's ad showing a woman with a plastic bag over her head.

Shelter did manage to provoke fury, but only from organisers of the Ideal Home Show, when it displayed posters depicting bad housing conditions on the exhibition's doorstep at Earl's Court tube station. Show organisers called the posters an "attack on the exhibition" and demanded their removal, but the charity refused to budge.

Amnesty International sought to raise the issue of domestic violence with poster adverts that looked at first glance to be a glossy cosmetics campaign but, upon closer examination, depicted women trying to disguise bruises.

Scope drew attention to part three of the Disability Discrimination Act through its Judgement Day ad. The poster of a woman in a wheelchair and a judge's wig reminded companies that after 1 October it would be illegal to operate without adequate disabled access to premises.

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