'Shameless' terrorism advert condemned

Click to follow

A leaflet posted by an investment company reacting to the terrorist attacks on America was called sensationalist and opportunist by advertising regulators yesterday.

The direct mailing from Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management of Bristol warned 400,000 investors that "any chance that recession might have been averted has probably just disappeared" and painted a terrifying picture of economic meltdown.

It prompted a deluge of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority which were upheld yesterday in the first judgment on matters of taste arising from the events of 11 September.

In a damning adjudication, the authority said it "consid-ered that the wording of the mailing could appear sensationalist and opportunist and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and distress to those who had lost friends or family in the attacks". The authority recorded objections that the mailing was "shameless, disgusting and offensive because it attempted to use the tragedy as a tasteless marketing ploy and gave no record to those who had lost their lives".

Other complainants felt that it could have caused distress if sent to people who had lost friends and relatives in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management explained that there was already "substantial worry" about the world's stock markets and the mailing was the company's way of alleviating fears compounded by a lack of information.

Although the advertiser believed the mailing would not cause distress and simply offered practical suggestions on what to do with investments, the authority asked it to "take more care with the wording of [its] mailings in future".