A monthly local news magazine in Dorset has banned by the Advertising Standards Authority from carrying an advert for an Enid Blyton-themed giftshop because it included a picture of an “offensive” children’s character.
The advert (above) features an illustration of a “golly” character under the slogan: “ENGLISH FREEDOM”.
The shop, Ginger Pop Ltd, told the ASA they did not accept that the “golliwog” represented negative racial stereotypes.
They said they believed the character as depicted in the original children’s books and on Robertson’s marmalade badges was “heroic and was an aspirational role model”.
They also said that he was not intended to be seen as a human character but as “a magical being”.
The Purbeck Gazette said it had checked the legality of the ad before running it and had been advised that it was within the law. They said they had not received any complaints.
The ASA said it had received two complaints.
It said in its ruling: “The ASA understood that there had been some local controversy around the tea-towel produced by Ginger Pop for display and sale in their shop, and that the ad was a reference to that. However, we did not consider that all readers would be aware of that background, or that such awareness would necessarily impact on their reaction to the ad.
“The code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds, including race.
“We noted that the ad featured an image which was recognisably a golly character. We considered that many people were likely to view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, and its prominent inclusion in a press ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
“We also considered that the inclusion of the words ‘ENGLISH FREEDOM’ in the ad was likely to contribute to that offence, because in combination with the image it could be read as a negative reference to immigration or race. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”