Hippie's complaint over advert fails

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The Independent Online
The Advertising Standards Authority has turned down a complaint from green campaigner and free festival organiser Sid Rawle about an advertising campaign that put words in his mouth. The case reveals that compared with celebrities, there is little protection for ordinary members of the public whose image appears in advertisements.

Mr Rawle, once known as "King of the Hippies", was used by the advertising agency Bates Dorland in a poster promoting the Halifax Building Society's bid to convert to a bank.

The photograph was taken in 1982 when Mr Rawle was presiding at a baby- naming ceremony at the Stonehenge free festival. Bates Dorland obtained it from a picture agency and claimed not to know that Mr Rawle was well- known. "I feel used and abused," Mr Rawle said yesterday. "Having spent 20 years in the Green Party I was totally against building societies turning from ethical, mutual societies into banks. It made it look like I was shouting `Go and vote yourselves a pounds 1,000 folks'."

The poster pictured him with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth saying "Be a part of something big, man."

"These are words put into my mouth that I disagree with and that make me look stupid," said Mr Rawle, who claims that an orchestra conductor used in a similar poster was contacted for his permission.

However, the ASA's regulations allowed the use of Mr Rawle because he wasn't famous enough to make money from his own image and because he was part of a crowd scene. The ASA also ruled that the words coming out of Mr Rawle's mouth did not portray him in a negative manner or imply approval of the Halifax's planned conversion to a bank.

A spokesman for the ASA said people were only protected if they were likely to be portrayed in an offensive way or if they can make money from their own image.

"Basically they are saying `If you are famous you get protected'," said Mr Rawle. "And obviously you need to be really, really famous. The little person stands no chance at all up against big corporations and the ASA."

Bates Dorland declined to comment on the case.

-- Paul McCann

when faces did not fit

The ASA ruled in favour of the Lord Chamberlain's office when it complained on behalf of Princess Diana on two occasions.

Once was against Live TV! which superimposed Paul Gascoigne's face on Prince Charles' shoulders.

It also ruled against Insider magazine which pictured the princess in a PVC catsuit.

Virginia Bottomley succeeded in a complaint against a private healthcare scheme which pictured the then health secretary in an advert above the strapline; "Our patients never suffer from this terrible pain."