Monday, 12 November 2012

KINGSMILL ADVERT: Provocative or Legal?

  •     The schoolgirl in the Kingsmill advert is played by 18-year-old Tara Berwin
  •     30-second clip is part of £4million campaign to promote Kingsmill bread
  •     The Advertising Standards Authority has received 19 complaints about the ‘offensive and irresponsible’ advert
A TV advert showing a teenager posing provocatively in skimpy school uniform has prompted a hail of complaints from parents.

Advertising watchdogs said the 30-second commercial for Kingsmill fruit and fibre bread had triggered claims that it ‘sexualises children’.

The advert shows a schoolgirl in the kitchen at breakfast. Her younger brother then...
relays a warning from their father: ‘If you think you’re going to school in that skirt, you can think again.’

The girl, played by actress Tara Berwin, responds by defiantly hitching up her mid-thigh length skirt to strike a provocative pose.

One outraged viewer wrote on a web forum: ‘Perhaps it’s because paedophilia is very much in the public consciousness at the moment but shouldn’t this be illegal? Nearly seeing up the skirt of  a minor?’

The advert featuring 18-year-old Ms Berwin and nine-year-old Lewis Hardaker is the latest in a £4 million campaign to promote Kingsmill bread.

The Advertising Standards Authority will this week examine complaints that it is ‘offensive and irresponsible’ before launching any investigation. The ASA has recorded 19 complaints about the commercial  since its launch a week ago.

Web forums were flooded with  serious comments. One parent wrote on Mumsnet: ‘I really think it exploits teenage girls. At the  end there is a girl dressed in a  very short skirt, over-the-knee stockings and it’s basically her school uniform.

‘I just don’t see how it’s appropriate or what it has to do with a Kingsmill loaf. It’s blatantly using sex to sell an everyday product.’ Another parent noted: ‘I think it’s grim, to be honest. The same joke could’ve been made by dressing the girl in any number of other unsuitable-for-school outfits.

‘The camera lingers on her giving a twirl, and the over-the-knee socks make her look like she’s in “naughty schoolgirl” fancy dress. Yuk.’

But criticism of the advert, which was uploaded to YouTube, prompted a response from Ms Berwin. She said: ‘There’s no need to patronise me, I haven’t done anything wrong.’

A Kingsmill spokesman said: ‘It captures the playful interactions that are typical of day-to-day family life and demonstrates our understanding of modern families and their needs.’

He added that the advert was cleared for broadcast by the appropriate industry body.

The advert was shot by creative agency Contagious Content and was overseen by Will Ghali, director of brands at Kingsmill owner, Allied Bakeries.

He said: ‘I don’t think it’s suggestive. It’s light-hearted and gets its message  across in an entertaining and engaging way.’

By Padraic Flanagan

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