3/18/10 – The Advertising Standards Authority, Britain's advertising watchdog and regulator, has banned a television advert flighted by Tombola Bingo for negative racial stereotyping, following a complaint from two members of the public.
The ASA ban was imposed on the grounds that the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 6.1 (Offence) and 6.6 (Harmful or negative stereotypes).
The ad, which was widely screened at prime times, showed a white man in a dinner suit and a black man, Tito, in a floral shirt, both sitting by a fire on a beach. The black man was playing a ukelele and repeated in song everything the white man said.
The ASA considered that the relationship between the two characters "was defined as the power of the white man over the black man", because of the difference in their dress and the way the black man was portrayed as less intelligent in that he repeated everything the white man said, even "Thank you, Tito".
The black man also seemed to look to the white man for reassurance or instruction, suggesting that he lacked the confidence or intellect to behave otherwise, the ASA said.
Clearcast said that it had reviewed the ad on more than one occasion and it did not appear to them that it might be interpreted as enforcing a negative racial stereotype. In its view the tropical island of Tombola was fictional, simply represented a host and a member of staff and they considered the repetition as a normal advertising tool to reinforce the offer being promoted. The characters were intended only to reflect the friendly and welcoming nature of the Tombola website.
However, the ASA did not agree and upheld the complaints, banning the ad from further use. The advertising watchdog said the advert could be "interpreted as humiliating, stigmatising or undermining the standing of the black character and was therefore likely to cause serious offence".
The campaign, created by Euro RSCG London, supported the recent Tombola decision to change the bingo site theme from a fairground to a tropical background.