Complaints kill off sherry advert banned

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A sherry advertisement in which a woman mourned the death of a fish has been banned from British television. The Independent Television Commission upheld 26 complaints over the commercial - for Croft Original Sherry - in which a woman said funerals were a good, if sad, place to enjoy sherry.

The ITC did not, however, take issue with a controversial advertisement in which the football stars Eric Cantona and Les Ferdinand spoke about the relevance of racism in sport. Eighteen viewers had objected to the Nike commercial on the grounds that it was broadcast within days of Cantona's conviction for assaulting a fan during a Manchester United game. Critics insisted that the advertisement was an attempt to glorify and exploit Cantona's infamy and labelled it "insensitive and inappropriate".

The ITC concluded that this was unfair. It noted that the commercial was backing a "Kick Racism Out Of Football Campaign" and had received positive reactions from the soccer authorities and supporters.

In all, the ITC investigated five advertisements last month and concluded in three cases that complaints were justified. It upheld a complaint that a Pepe jeans commercial broadcast on MTV could have condoned joy-riding and youthful suicide.

The ITC agreed that the final sequence of the advertisement, in which a boy and a girl in a car are hoisted high into the air by a crane and then dropped, could be construed as showing a double suicide.

MTV said that it had been careful to ensure that the commercial was acceptable, insisting that car sequences did not give the impression of speed and that actors had to wear seat belts. MTV said it had not occurred to them that the final scene could be interpreted as a suicide pact.

Virgin Radio escaped censure with a controversial advertisement shown only in the London area in which a significantly overweight young man (an American DJ) danced. The ad finished: "Listen now or next time he's naked". In all, 45 people complained that this denigrated obese people "portraying them as disgusting and unsightly, and giving the impression that it was acceptable to see them as figures of fun."