My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding show poster complaints upheld

Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier. Channel 4 billboard advert
Image caption The poster campaign drawing complaints included pictures of children and teenagers

Complaints about two billboard adverts for Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding have been upheld by the advertising watchdog.

The posters featured images of a young boy looking aggressively at the camera and teenage girls wearing low-cut tops.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that they were likely to cause "serious offence" to some members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities.

Channel 4 has apologised and said it had not intended to cause offence.

Bullying and abuse

The ASA decision was a partial reversal of a previous ruling on the adverts.

It received more than 370 complaints about the posters which publicised the show's second series, and bore the slogan "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier."

In February it decided that although the posters might not be to everyone's taste, they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, as they reflected the content of the programme.

But it began a second investigation following a request by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, which complained that the adverts racially demeaned them and exposed their children to bullying and abuse.

This time the ASA said one of the posters featured a young boy with his lips pursed in a manner that "was likely to be seen as aggressive."

It argued that, shown with the word "gypsier", the image might suggest that aggressive behaviour was typical of the younger members of the gypsy and traveller community.

The statement concluded: "We considered that implication was likely to cause serious offence to some members of those communities, while endorsing the prejudicial view that young gypsies and travellers were aggressive."

On the advert featuring the girls in low-cut tops, the ASA said Channel 4 "acted irresponsibly" because the girl on the right of the poster was 15 when the picture was taken.

It also highlighted the fact that the girls were heavily made-up.

'Morally bankrupt'

Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, said she applauded the ASA ruling.

She said: "As a result of this decision, Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy brand has been held up to be morally bankrupt.

"The ITMB and the Gypsy and Traveller co-complainants call upon those responsible for these adverts to issue a full apology for the harm they have caused to children with their offensive campaign.

"We call on Channel 4 to repair the incredible harm they have done to the UK's most vulnerable minorities."

Channel 4 apologised to members of the Gypsy and Traveller community who had been offended.

A spokesman said: "It was not Channel 4's intention for these adverts to cause offence but we are sorry this was the case."

The broadcaster said its publicity campaign had used real and intimate photographic portraits of gypsy and traveller life "in a style to reflect the journalistic intent of the series".

It also emphasised that informed consent had been obtained from all the subjects or their relevant parent or guardian - and final copies of the adverts had been sent to the families involved, with no objections.

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