Life insurance firm DeadHappy's ad banned for 'trivialising suicide'

Dead Happy advert Image copyright ASA/DeadHappy
Image caption The firm said the ASA had misunderstood the advert

A life insurance advert has been banned by the advertising watchdog for appearing to trivialise suicide.

The paid-for Facebook post for DeadHappy showed a man leaning his head against the wall alongside the strapline "life insurance to die for".

A viewer complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) saying that it alluded to depression and suicide.

The ASA agreed and ordered the firm to stop using the ad, which has been welcomed by mental health experts.

DeadHappy, based at East Midlands Airport, has defended the advert, saying it formed part of a larger campaign focusing on the bizarre and the absurd.

It said the image showed a man banging his head in frustration at the difficulty in obtaining life insurance rather than having any connection to suicide or depression.

But the ASA concluded the image, strapline and the firm's laughing skull Facebook profile image "taken together trivialised the issue of suicide".

Image copyright DeadHappy
Image caption The company employs eye-catching imagery across its marketing

Responding to the decision, DeadHappy co-founder Phil Zeidler said: "We feel that the ASA's ruling is their misunderstanding of our ad.

"We are trying hard to get people thinking about and planning for their death, and having protection in place for the people they love most. This ruling could easily shut those conversations down."

But Chris O'Sullivan, from the Mental Health Foundation, welcomed the fact the ASA was looking at the way UK advertising relates to issues of mental health.

"In this case, the choice of visual image is unfortunate at best," he said. "It seems to refer to mental ill health and suicide, even if this wasn't the advertiser's intention.

"The business concerned has chosen to use deliberately provocative language and imagery in its marketing, fitting with the need to disrupt the market - but this is a step too far.

"We fully support the ASA ruling here."

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