Blind World Magazine

United Kingdom.
Insurance Ad Was 'Offensive To Blind People.'

November 16, 2005.

An insurance firm has been ordered to pull an "insensitive" magazine advert over fears it could offend blind people.

Watchdogs upheld a complaint from a reader about the advert - which appeared to show a blind man riding a motorbike - because it "seemed to equate stupidity" with being blind.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advert, printed in Motor Cycle News, was "likely to cause serious or widespread offence" and was in breach of regulations covering decency.

The ad for Bristol-based eBike Insurance was headlined "There are none so blind as those who will not e" and text stated "go ebike insurance online - where you're the one in control". The ad also showed a picture of a man wearing a motor cycle helmet, but only the whites of his eyes could be seen and he appeared to have no irises or pupils.

A reader objected that the ad was offensive, because it was in bad taste and insensitive to the blind and those with visual impairments.

The insurance company said it had used a commonly known figure of speech, which they considered inoffensive. It argued that the ad had offended a relatively small number of people in relation to the magazine's readership figures and claimed that showed it had caused neither serious nor widespread offence.

Bosses at the firm said, although they had no plans to re-use it, they had consulted legal advisors and were informed the ad was within legal boundaries. They claimed that it was not their intention to cause offence and apologised for any offence they had inadvertently caused.

Motor Cycle News staff pointed out that they actively worked with the blind and visually impaired and had done for many years. They explained that, at the time of publication, they did not believe the ad was likely to cause offence but, after consideration, they had removed it from all future issues. They said they had not received any complaints directly about it.

However an ASA spokesman said: "We considered that the slogan, a popular metaphor used to imply wilful ignorance, in conjunction with a photograph of a motorcyclist who appeared to be blind, seemed to equate stupidity with the disability.

"We concluded that the ad was potentially offensive to blind or visually impaired people and likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We told eBike not to use the approach again."

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