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    Saturday, 17 November 2007

    Changing perspectives: political advertising on disability

    In the early part of this week, a number of newspapers carried the story that the disability charity Leonard Cheshire is to launch an advertising campaign using new Aardman Animations characters (1,2,3,4). The campaign, Creature Discomforts, has been launched online (although its server was down last time I checked - in the meantime you can meet the six characters here) and hoarding and television advertisements are purportedly to follow.

    This is interesting because were the campaign aimed at changing the way in which those with disabilities are viewed in society it should presumably be barred from broadcast platforms as a 'political' advert. Alternatively, it may just be intended to highlight difficulties facing the handicapped, by holding an only slightly distorted mirror up to society. Is there a difference; would there be a point to the campaign if not to change perspectives? Are we seeing a shift in the acceptability of such messaging?

    Of course, some years ago an accommodation was reached by the broadcasters and charities which provided that so long as the charities kept their messages factual they would be permissible. So, they can for example represent starving African children in an attempt to raise donations but can't suggest that Western policies - or those of local governments - have any bearing on the predicament faced. That is, objectionably, if charities could cast their missives in the form of commercial advertisements - pay us for a guilt-free conscience - everything was fine from the regulatory perspective.

    Incidentally, the challenge launched by animal welfare group Animal Defenders International to the rights-compliance of the s.319/321 ban on political advertising is due to be heard by a House of Lords panel comprising Lord Bingham, Baroness Hale, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown and Lord Neuberger on 17-18 December. The group is seeking a section 4 HRA declaration of incompatibility with the Convention right to freedom of expression.


    Anonymous said...

    I hope the Animal Defenders win their case. It seems odd that the public can be exposed to adverts for beer and consumer-craze products, but nothing political that might get people thinking for themselves.

    Bread and circus...

    -Russ (OfcomWatch)

    Andrew Scott said...

    For more comment on the Leonard Chesire campaign, see Naresh Ramchandani in the Guardian.

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