U.K. Ad Watchdog Finds Channel 4 Ads For Gypsy Documentary 'Offensive'

7:13 AM PST 10/03/2012 by Stuart Kemp

The Advertising Standards Authority deemed ads for the broadcaster's show "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings" featuring the line "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" and provocative images of travelers to be too much.

LONDON – An advertizing print and outdoor campaign for Britain's Channel 4 reality show Big Fat Gypsy Wedding featuring the tagline "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier." emblazoned across provocative images of travelers has fallen foul of the The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The watchdog ruled that the ads, designed inhouse at the broadcaster's 4Creative, were "offensive."

One image featured a close up of a young boy with a snarl while another featured two young women wearing low cut bras.

It emerged in the ASA investigation that one of the two women pictured was 15 when it was taken.

While Channel 4 said it had secured the teenagers' parents' consent for her to be included in the campaign, and she had turned 16 by the time it began, the ASA found the ad was "likely to be harmful" to the girl featured.

ASA found Channel 4 to be have "acted irresponsibly by depicting a child in a sexualized way".

It was also ruled that Channel 4's campaign offended because the posters reinforced negative images of the gypsy and traveler community.

The ASA found the ad showing the young snarling boy reaffirmed commonly held prejudices about gypsy and traveler children in a way that was "likely to cause distress and mental harm" to children from those communities.

The ASA investigation into the ads, which ran earlier this year in subway stations and on billboards, came after pressure from the  the Irish Traveler Movement in Britain.

The two ads have been banned while another ad campaign featuring younger girls in dresses for their first holy communion outside a caravan and one featuring a grown man with a horse were not banned.

Channel 4 apologized for causing offence with the ads.

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