ASA Adjudication on Save the Children Fund
Save the Children Fund
1 St John's Lane
11 October 2006
Number of complaints:
A mailing, for the children's charity Save the Children Fund, comprised a leaflet and an envelope. The envelope showed the close-up of the eyes of a child of African origin and text on the front of it stated "IF YOU HAVE BROWN EYES, YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO DIE YOUNG." The reverse of the envelope showed a close-up of the eyes of a child of Asian origin and featured the same text. The leaflet inside the envelope contained text that stated "Most children born with brown eyes are born in the world's poorest countries" and detailed the plight of children in various countries in Africa and Asia and asked for a donation of £3 a month.
The complainants, who were concerned the envelope might be seen by children who did not understand the full message of the mailing, thought the text on the front of the envelope was likely to cause undue fear and distress to children by suggesting that having brown eyes could be a cause of early death.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Save the Children Fund (Save the Children) explained that the mailing was intended to educate recipients about the numbers of children dying in poor countries each year. They said it was not their intention to shock or distress but to encourage recipients to read the mailing and to make a donation. Save the Children apologised for any offence caused and said they would amend the presentation of the mailing if they decided to use it again.
The ASA noted the intention of the mailing was to attract donations for Save the Children and we considered that the images of the childrens' eyes on the envelope were unlikely to cause fear and distress to children who saw them. However, because the images were coupled with the text "IF YOU HAVE BROWN EYES YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO DIE YOUNG" and, because the nature of the mailing was not clear from the presentation of the envelope, we were concerned that it could cause undue fear and distress to young children who saw it. We welcomed Save the Children's offer to amend the mailing if they decided to use it again and advised them to consult the CAP Copy Advice team about the presentation of the envelope.
The mailing breached CAP Code clause 9.1 (Fear and distress) but not 47.2 (Children).
The mailing should not be used again in its current form.