Iris faces uproar over ‘chav’ parody

Agency Iris has been accused of being ‘sneering, superior and ignorant’ after publishing its internal staff benefits book, ‘Iris on Benefits’, which featured staff dressed up as alcohol-swigging, chain-smoking chavs.
Designed as a parody of the Channel 4 series Shameless, the book was featured in Campaign’s diary section, but appears to have seriously misfired after being blasted on social media. The uproar follows a blog post by copywriter Holly Brockwell.
Brockwell, who works for Albion London, said: “I’m sure this was supposed to come across as light and humorous, but it doesn’t. It comes across as sneering, superior and ignorant.”
Even Iris co-founder Ian Millner gets in on the act, and is dressed “like a scary Manc”.
Since posting the blog, it has already amassed over 15,000 hits and 182 comments, most of which slam the agency, although a number of people support the parody. The row has also spilled over onto social media sites, most notably Twitter.
On Iris’ Facebook page, where many comments have already been deleted, Marcus Podilchuk posted: “Your ‘benefits’ booklet is not a clever parody, it simply reveals a strong streak of arrogant prejudice running through your design ethos. Presumably one of the uhh benefits of working for your company is the opportunities to poke fun at the disadvantaged? I suggest having snide sniggers at the less fortunate is not doing your own company brand any favours.”
UPDATE: Iris boss Ian Millner has been forced into an apology over the issue. He said: “We’re genuinely sorry for any offence caused by our Iris on Benefits booklet. It is in no way meant to poke fun at anyone other than ourselves. We parodied the well-loved programme ‘Shameless’ and our staff took part in those roles to raise a bit of internal attention to our great benefits package. But in hindsight, we can see how, if taken out of context, people could have seen it as offensive. If this has annoyed or upset anyone, we’re sorry.”
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