Italians kick up a stink over 'smelly' food advert

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The Independent Online

A tongue-in-cheek advert about the nuisance caused by travellers eating smelly food on the Tube has been withdrawn by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, after causing a diplomatic incident.

A tongue-in-cheek advert about the nuisance caused by travellers eating smelly food on the Tube has been withdrawn by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, after causing a diplomatic incident.

The controversial poster, issued by the London Underground, showed an Italian delicatessen owner sitting in a Tube carriage, surrounded by salami, garlic and Parma hams.

The text below read: "Nobody likes to wade through discarded food cartons or sit in a carriage that smells. Please consider those around you by not eating smelly food on the Tube."

But offended Italians deluged their embassy in London with complaints, claiming the poster was a slur on the people and produce of their country.

Giancarlo Aragona, the Italian ambassador, personally wrote to Mr Livingstone and the London Underground marketing director, Richard Parry, expressing his "disappointment" and suggesting that the poster be immediately withdrawn.

The Italian government issued a strongly worded condemnation after memos were dispatched by the Embassy to both foreign affairs and agriculture ministries to inform them of the slight. "This campaign does not do any honour to whoever thought of it and it damages Italy's image. Our meat products are of the highest quality and have pride of place on any table in the world," it said.

Guido Carboni, economic affairs chief at the Italian embassy in London, said the advertising executives responsible for the advert had "obviously never eaten prosciutto" if they thought it was smelly.

The Italian onslaught brought a swift climb down from Mr Livingstone: ""As a lover of Italian food, I can say that the items illustrated both smell and taste delicious. I have asked London Underground to take the ads down immediately."

A London Underground spokesperson said: "We apologise for any offence caused to any members of the Italian community and charcuterie manufacturers and retailers."

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