Retailer defends ‘racist’ golliwog ad despite ban

golliwog-nA shop at Corfe Castle, Dorset, which sells Enid Blyton memorabilia, has been rapped over the knuckles for a print ad which featured a golliwog, despite its insistence that it is not a racist symbol, simply a “magical character”.
The Ginger Pop Shop at Corfe Castle has previous; the owner appeared in the news eight years ago when she received death threats over her decision to sell the dolls.
Unbowed, the shop decided to press ahead with this ad, which ran in June in the Purbeck Gazette under the strapline “English Freedom”.
The Advertising Standards Authority received two complaints that the ad was racist, a charge which – perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ginger Pop rejected.
In its detailed response, the shop highlighted the history of the golliwog character, providing a copy of the 19th century children’s book in which it first appeared, along with quotes about its creation by the author, Florence Kate Upton.
It also provided a range of other historical materials, and argued that the character had been misconstrued over the years. It was not intended to be human, the shop stated, but a magical character which should be seen as aspirational and heroic.
The ASA, however, remained unconvinced by the arguments, ruling that a significant number of people would view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, which meant the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
It also took issue with the phrase “English Freedom”, because in combination with the image it could be seen as negative reference to immigration. The watchdog ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

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