Advertisers fail to see funny side of the F-word

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The Independent Online
The fashion retailer French Connection has been ordered to withdraw its current advertising campaign from style magazines.

The adverts which say "fcuk advertising", and feature no clothes, just the top of a model's head, are currently featured in the September issues of The Face, Arena, Vogue, FHM, Sky and Marie Claire, but the committee of advertising protection, part of the Advertising Standards Authority, said they should not appear in the November issues.

Two months ago the company had a similar problem with a previous logo, "fcuk fashion". It was used for window displays, carrier bags, T-shirts and billboards. Strangely, 50,000 T-shirts were sold, 100,000 bags given out, but only a paltry nine members of the public complained about the150ft boards.

After the initial complaints French Connection replaced the word "fashion" with "advertising" and inserted dots between each letter for the billboards to clarify the abbreviation of the company name, and reduce offence. "We are now using it [fcuk] as a trademark, just like, say, the AA or RAC," said Trevor Beattie, creative director at GGT who dreamt up the advertising. "It's a total U-turn, the magazines approved the latest campaign, and they ran the ads." Beattie was responsible for the "Hello Boys" Wonderbra campaign.

The adverts can remain in style magazines if the word "advertising" is replaced with "advertisement", but billboards with a model's head between "fcuk" and "advertising" have been approved, and will be unveiled a week on Monday.

Since the company introduced its play on the F-word into merchandising and adverts in February it has been exposed to 15,000 million people. Lilli Anderson, spokeswoman for the company, said: "It's just meant as a bit of fun, a play on words really; magazines are always using the real F-word in their editorial."