Egg on the edge with men in shower advert

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The Independent Online

The online bank egg last night embarked on an unexpected change of image with a new advertising campaign that features two men in the shower and lying on a bed together.

The online bank egg last night embarked on an unexpected change of image with a new advertising campaign that features two men in the shower and lying on a bed together.

The Broadcast Advertisement Clearance Centre, which screens all adverts before they are launched, has ruled that two of the series of four adverts, which keeps viewers guessing about the sexuality of the male characters, were not appropriate to be shown during or between children's programmes.

The adverts, which started screening yesterday evening, feature one character, known as Rob, scrubbing the other, called Stuart, in the shower. In a different advert Rob lies with his arms around Stuart on a bed and tells him "We love you".

In the other two of the sequence, which were directed by Spike Jonze, creator of the film Being John Malkovich, Stuart appears to be heterosexual and has a girlfriend called Louise. All of the adverts end with children chanting: "Egg and me, up in a tree, k, i, s, s, i, n, g."

Egg said yesterday the decision to portray the characters with ambiguous sexuality was part of its plan to create an "edgy" image.

Tony Williams, head of branding for egg, said: "We considered having two women who could be gay and thought that was too edgy and a man and a woman would have been just normal. We think this is edgy but getting it right."

However, in the last few days the bank, which has 1.1 million customers, decided to change the order in which the adverts are shown. The instalment called Bed will now be shown last in the series, rather than first, due to concerns that it will "polarise viewers".

Mr Williams admitted that the board of egg, whose parent company is the insurance giant Prudential, was "very nervous" about the campaign, which cost £3m.

But he said the move was part of egg's drive to represent a new set of values and so attract new customers.

Egg's plan comes as competition mounts among the internet banks to grab younger and less traditional customers.

However, the gay community has expressed concerns about egg's portrayal of sexuality. David Hudson, editor of the gay magazine Fluid, said: "Anything that makes people sit up and think about issues is welcome. But I think portraying a real gay couple would have been more novel and more challenging."

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