Branson's 'anti-ginger' ad is banned by watchdog

Virgin Media has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for suggesting that ginger hair is undesirable.

It is the first time the ASA has upheld a complaint of ill-treatment against Titian-haired individuals in its 47-year history. Three people complained about Virgin Media's newspaper ads for its show Dating in the Dark by suggesting it was important to weigh up the merits of a prospective partner.

The text stated: "How do you spot a ginger in the dark?... Looks or personality, who wins?" Virgin insisted the advert was not offensive. Dating in the Dark, it said, "challenged people's perceptions of attractiveness" and encouraged them to make decisions based on personality as well as looks.

The ASA banned the advert for breaching rules on decency, saying it suggested "that people with ginger hair were unattractive" and was "likely to be seen as prejudicial".

Yesterday Britain's biggest retailer, Tesco, apologised for a Christmas card suggesting Santa Claus loved "even" children with red hair.

The red-haired singer Mick Hucknall has complained in the past that taunting people with red hair is tantamount to racism, a view rejected by the Commission for Racial Equality, which says "gingerism" is "not something for us".

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