'Racial stereotype' bingo ad is banned

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The Independent Online

An advert for a bingo website in which a black man repeated everything a white man said has been banned for using negative racial stereotypes, a watchdog announced today.

The television ad for Tombola Bingo showed a white man wearing a dinner suit and a black man in a floral shirt sitting by a fire on a beach, with the black man playing a ukulele and repeating in song everything the other man said.

Two viewers complained that the ad presented a negative racial stereotype.

Tombola said it did not intend to use the ad again in future.

Clearcast, which approves ads before they are broadcast, said it did not occur to them that the ad could be interpreted as presenting a negative stereotype.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaints, saying that the relationship between the two characters was "defined as the power of the white man over the black man".

It noted that the white man was wearing a suit whereas the black man was casually dressed and was portrayed as less intelligent by repeating everything the white man said.

It also said the black man seemed to look to the white man for reassurance or instruction, suggesting that he lacked the confidence or intellect to behave otherwise.

The ASA ruled: "We considered that the ad could be interpreted as humiliating, stigmatising or undermining the standing of the black character and was therefore likely to cause serious offence."

The watchdog said the ad must not be broadcast again in its current form and warned Tombola against presenting negative racial stereotypes in future.