Controversial Kids Imagery

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Image from Benetton that caused controversy

A current debate in the UK over the kinds of images appropriate for kids is just the latest in a series of high-profile media storms over kids and imagery

The big media story in the UK over the last few days has been around the sexualisation of children, a debate that encompasses everything from inappropriate clothing (padded bras and lace lingerie for kids) to racy music videos that, it is argued should be age-rated. And while advertising is regulated, it has seen its fair share of child-related advertising controversies.

1.    Oliviero Toscani’s Benetton ad campaigns were a lightning-rod in the 1990s.  Even when the ads were innocent, its history of media blow-ups meant each new campaign was subject to intense scrutiny for possible offence. The image above of a black woman breastfeeding a white baby was seen by some as an allusion to the history of slavery.

2.     Charities have often relied on controversial images. While many argue that shock imagery isn’t effective it makes a limited campaign budget go further in terms of the publicity generated. This campaign by BBH for Barnardo’s children’s charity around child poverty caused a storm. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK agued that while children were unlikely to copy the adverts believed that the ads had broken the advertising code because they caused widespread offence.

3.     Long before the age of the viral, UK advertising agency HCL created an advert for soft drinks brand Tango which involved a large orange coloured man slapping children’s ears, with the strapline “You Know When You’ve Been Tangoed.” An innocuous ad caused a panic when some suggested playgrounds in the UK were imitating the slapping causing injuries and even deafness. The ad was replaced with one were the orange Buddha-like man kisses instead of slaps.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV8zGNe7Ebg’]

4.     We had our own experience recently when an Image Source photo of a young African-American girl was used on a New York billboard as part of an ant-abortion campaign with the tagline – “The Most Dangerous Place For An African-American Is In The Womb.” Criticism from local political leaders lead to the billboard being removed.

For Further Info, The Huffington Post

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