Dawn French poster cleared over ‘serious offence’ complaints

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A poster stating that “Dawn French is a huge twat” has been cleared by the advertising watchdog following complaints that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The advert for the actress and comedian’s upcoming UK tour, seen in The Sunday Times Culture magazine on December 4, included a picture of French and text stating: “Back due to phenomenal demand.”

Two people complained that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Promoter Phil McIntyre Live said it was regrettable that the ads had caused offence to the people who complained, but that the title of the show was humorous and aimed any offence at French herself.

The Dawn French tour poster cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA/PA)

They further explained that the term in question was one that was used by many people, including the French, in their everyday lives.

The Sunday Times said they had no comment and would await the outcome of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) investigation, but confirmed they had received no complaints about the ad.

The ASA noted that the advert appeared in The Sunday Times Culture magazine, and assessed it with with regard to its likely audience in that medium.

The watchdog said the word “twat” had the potential to cause offence to audiences but acknowledged that it was in the title of French’s live tour.

The ASA said: “We considered that most readers would likely be aware of who Dawn French was and her style of comedy, and that the use of the word would be understood by readers to be self-deprecating and tongue-in-cheek, and it was not, for example, used in a sexual context.

“We understood that the word twat written in full was in line with the editorial style of The Sunday Times and that the word reflected similar use of language in the editorial sections of the newspaper where the word had been used in full, without any asterisks.

“Given the above, we therefore concluded that whilst some readers may have found the ad distasteful, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to its audience, and concluded that it did not breach the code.”

The ASA ruled no further action was necessary.

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