Reebok advert starring 50 Cent banned for glamorising guns

A television commercial starring the rapper 50 Cent has been banned for glamorising gun culture. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the commercial for the sportswear brand Reebok, which highlighted the fact that the artist had been shot nine times, was not suitable to be broadcast.

A television commercial starring the rapper 50 Cent has been banned for glamorising gun culture. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the commercial for the sportswear brand Reebok, which highlighted the fact that the artist had been shot nine times, was not suitable to be broadcast.

In the advert, 50 Cent is sitting in a darkened room, counting slowly from one to nine, while an audio track says that he has been "gunned down", "taken to Jamaica hospital" and "shot nine times".

Water drips which appears to flash red, and when the voiceover asks: "Who do you plan to massacre next?" The rapper laughs and stares at the camera.

The ASA upheld 57 complaints over the advert, which was withdrawn by Reebok in April after anti-gun campaigners protested that it could encourage violence. Some viewers complained that it glorified gun culture, and said it was particularly inappropriate given "rising gun crime" in some areas of Britain.

Others feared the comercial could influence younger viewers, who might think 50 Cent's violent background was "cool''. The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, grew up in Queens, New York. He was shot nine times with a 9mm pistol there in 2000.

The ASA said the advert was "inappropriate in view of the recent high profile of specific gun-related crime in various areas of Britain" and had caused "serious offence". The ASA added that the advertiser had made no attempt to condemn the violence portrayed.

The watchdog said: "As 50 Cent is a well-known 'gangster-style' rapper whose music is closely associated with crime and violence, we believed the advertisements endorsed his type of lifestyle and disregarded the unsavoury and perilous aspects of it by implying it was possible to survive being shot nine times.

"We considered that through the portrayal of 50 Cent as a 'cool' survivor of gun crime the [advert] had the potential to encourage or condone violence; particularly among vulnerable or younger viewers.''

The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which approved the advert to be shown after the 9pm watershed, said it cleared the commercial because "the end result was not to condone [violence] but to show that he overcame it".

Reebok said the advert was part of its "I Am What I Am" campaign, also featuring Lucy Liu, the Hollywood actress, and Kelly Holmes, the Olympic gold medallist, and was "intended to encourage young people to embrace their own individuality by celebrating their contemporary heroes".

It said the question "Who do you plan to massacre next?" was a reference to 50 Cent's new album The Massacre and to the fact that he enjoys high record sales. Reebok said it withdrew the commercial because "a small number of the general public found it offensive".

The ASA rejected 620 complaints that the television commercial for the Pot Noodle snack, featuring a man with a brass horn in his trousers and the line "Have you got the Pot Noodle horn?", was tasteless and offensive. The ASA said the ads were similar in style to Carry On films, adding that the "pantomime" style had taken the edge off the sexual innuendo.

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