Adjudication of the Advertising Standard Authority:
Complaint: Objections to two posters and a regional press advertisement for Hamlet Miniatures cigars.
The Restricted Growth Association and members of the public objected that:
1. poster (a) and poster (b) misleadingly implied that dwarves and people of short stature were small because they or their mothers smoked;
2. poster (a) was offensive and vulgar especially because it ridiculed short people and
3. poster (b) was offensive and vulgar
especially because it ridiculed short people
4. The Child Growth Foundation and a
member of the public objected to the visual, that appeared in the Uxbridge Leader, because they considered the visual offensive because it demeaned dwarves and was set in a public urinal.
1. Complaints not upheld
The advertisers asserted that the Government required a health warning on all advertisements for tobacco but did not comment
further on the complaint. The Authority
considered that most readers would not infer that the posters implied that dwarves or
people of short stature were small because they or their mothers smoked. It concluded that the posters were not misleading in that regard.
2. Complaints upheld
The advertisers explained that the poster was part of a long-running campaign that showed people enjoying "Hamlet" moments; they explained that they had used dwarves because they were intrinsically connected with Hamlet Miniature cigars. They asserted that readers would understand that they were laughing with the dwarf actors and not at them. The advertisers claimed they had taken advice from several dwarf actors about how to portray the dwarves in the posters. They said the poster showed an everyday situation that dwarves and people of restricted height faced. They argued that not being able to use a public toilet was a dilemma the dwarves themselves found humorous and was not manufactured or fabricated. The advertisers said they had taken advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team, which had considered that the advertisement was unlikely to offend. They said they had no plans to use the poster again. The Authority considered that the poster showed the dwarves in real discomfort, being unable to perform the ordinary everyday task of using a public toilet.
The Authority concluded that the poster ridiculed short people and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. It told the advertisers not to use the poster again.
3. Complaints not upheld
The advertisers claimed they had consulted a magazine for disabled people and received positive feedback: the poster depicted intelligently and humorously people with a disability. They said they had taken advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team, which had considered that the advertisement was unlikely to offend. The Authority noted the poster showed the dwarves trying to participate in a leisure activity, which was not an everyday task that they had to perform. It considered that most readers would infer that the poster was meant to be humorous. The Authority considered that the poster did not ridicule short people and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
4. Complaints upheld
The publishers explained that the advertisement had not been seen by their editorial management before it was
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