Barnardo's cockroach adverts banned

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The Independent Online

An advertising campaign for the children's charity Barnardo's, showing cockroaches crawling out of the mouths of new-born babies, has been banned following a record number of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Barnardo's used "shocking images" in its campaign and ordered them to be withdrawn.

Three adverts depicted babies' mouths filled with a cockroach, a syringe and a bottle of methylated spirits, with the slogan: "There are no silver spoons for children born into poverty".

Barnardo's defended the campaign as a stark portrayal of the wickedness of poverty. It said the pictures also demonstrated the often distressing nature of its work. But newspaper readers were upset by the computer-enhanced images and 466 complained to the ASA, the highest number this year.

Complainants said the adverts were "offensive, shocking and unduly distressing". Some suggested the adverts could encourage children to copy the images.

Barnardo's compared the campaign to hard-hitting adverts for road safety or anti-smoking which "caused distress for good reason."

In its ruling, the ASA said that children were unlikely to copy the adverts. But it decided that the campaign had broken the advertising code of practice because it could "cause serious or widespread offence."

Diana Green, Barnardo's director of communications, said the charity would abide by the watchdog's recommendations but it did not agree with them.

"We make no apologies because we have raised the debate of child poverty," she said.