Viz magazine has been kicked in the Buster Gonads by the ad watchdog after running an ad for an online clothing firm which featured a 10-year-old girl smoking and drinking.
Readers of Viz – whose other strips include Johnny Fartpants, Biffa Beef, Sid the Sexist and The Fat Slags – were left distinctly unamused by the ad for CharGrilled in the magazine’s April issue, and rifled off complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
They believed the ad – which showed the girl wearing a T-shirt and drinking and smoking, under the headline: “Be a Cool Kid Wear a CharGrilled T-Shirt” – broke advertising rules because the girl was quite obviously underage. They also reckoned it suggested doing these things would enhance a person’s popularity.
In response, CharGrilled said it did not feel the ad enhanced the popularity of drinking or smoking but it did accept the girl appeared to be under 25, which breached the code rules, and withdrew the ad. The company said it had taken the image from a stock photo library and had not chosen the specific model that appeared.
Viz magazine owner Dennis Publishing said it had not received any complaints from readers but did accept the ad should not have run in the first place. It pledged to review its advertising practices to prevent a repetition of the issue.
Ruling that the girl appeared to be around nine or 10 years old, the regulator said the headline appeared to condone underage drinking and smoking. It added: “We considered that both smoking and drinking alcohol were practices that were likely to result in harm to children.”
Quite what the character Roger Mellie (The Man on the Telly) would have made of it all is anyone’s guess but the issue is mild when compared to some of the magazine’s controversies over the years. The comic was once reprimanded by the United Nations after featuring a strip called “The Thieving Gypsy Bastards”. Meanwhile sports clothing manufacturer Kappa insisted that the comic drop the name of one of its characters, “Kappa Slappa”, as it had no permission to use the brand name and also believed that the character in question insulted its customer base.
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