Summary of Council decision
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not Upheld.
Two radio ads for the charity CrimeStoppers, heard on Heart FM, Radio X and Classic FM in April 2021:
a. The first ad featured a woman who stated, "They told me Christopher had been murdered - stabbed in the back. So as soon as they left, the first person we called was Christopher. It's almost like being sick with emotion, and you think 'I've got to stay strong, I've got to stay strong'. The phone just kept ringing, ringing, ringing. You're going 'c'mon Chris, answer the phone, you know, keep trying, keep trying, he'll answer, he'll answer'. And he didn't answer. So I rang him again. Put the phone down, ring again. We tried maybe nine, ten times. And slowly you come to the realisation that it's not a mistake, and it is the real thing, and he's never going to call back."
Another voice then stated, "Calling with knife crime information may feel hard – but there are harder calls." After providing information about how to contact the CrimeStoppers service, the second voice concluded, "Hard calls, save lives".
b. The second ad featured a woman who stated, "I rung my sister and said 'I've just been told that Godwin has died'. The only balance I could have was just the floor, just to hold me, because there was this point I wasn't able to sit or stand, and I just kept on repeating 'Died, died, died'. She was shouting ‘Oh my God, oh my God’ over and over. I do find it hard to describe it, because the feeling, it's like someone is taking your heart and ripped it apart and then giving it back to you and you don't know what to do with it.” The woman then started crying.
Another voice stated, "Calling with knife crime information may feel hard - but there are harder calls.” After providing information about how to contact the CrimeStoppers service, the second voice concluded, "Hard calls, save lives".
The ASA received two complainants:
1. Both complainants challenged whether the ads had been inappropriately scheduled at a time when children could hear them.
2. One complainant challenged whether the ads were likely to cause undue distress.
1. Global provided a copy of the script clearance document for the ads from Radiocentre that showed the ads had been cleared for broadcast, but with the advice that they were scheduled away from times when children under the age of 16 years old were likely to be listening. They said that the ads had been run according to that advice, and that Heart FM, Classic FM and Radio X were not stations targeted at those under 18 years of age.
Global provided Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) figures for Heart FM, Classic FM, and Radio X for the period of time when the ads were broadcast. The figures showed that those under 18 years of age made up 9.4%, 1.9%, and 1.3% of the radio stations’ audiences, respectively.
Radiocentre provided a copy of the script clearance document for the ads, showing ex-kids scheduling advice, and said that they felt that the overall approach used in the ad was justified.
2. CrimeStoppers Trust said that the ads had been created as part of a campaign in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). They said that violent crime, and therefore knife crime, was one of the MPS’s top priorities and that the purpose of the ads had been to encourage women to share information relating to knife crime anonymously via the independent CrimeStoppers charity. They said that showing the real grief of the mothers featured in the ads was not intended to cause distress and that the ad had been targeted at female adults.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA considered that both ads concerned a subject matter that some viewers might find upsetting, particularly those who had been, or knew someone, affected by knife crime. We considered that the speaker crying at the end of ad (b) added to that effect. However, we considered that the emotional nature of the appeal was proportional to the content of the ad and the seriousness of the issue being discussed; we considered its tone to be appropriate to its message.
We noted that the ads portrayed grief following knife crime-related bereavement and considered that was an emotive subject. We agreed with Radiocentre that the tone of the ad meant that it should have been scheduled away from times when children aged under 16 years were likely to be listening, in order to minimise the possibility of children hearing it. We noted that the RAJAR figures for Heart FM, Classic FM, and Radio X showed that the under-18 segment typically comprised a low proportion of the audience for all stations at the time the ads were broadcast: 9.4% for Heart FM, 1.9% for Classic FM and 1.3% for Radio X, which we considered minimal. We considered that the scheduling advice given by Radiocentre was appropriate and that, given the low proportion of under-18s listening to the relevant radio stations, it had been applied responsibly by the broadcasters.
We therefore concluded that ads (a) and (b) had not been scheduled inappropriately, and were unlikely to cause undue distress.On those points, we investigated ads (a) and (b) under BCAP Code rules 4.10 4.10 Advertisements must not distress the audience without justifiable reason. Advertisements must not exploit the audience's fears or superstitions (Harm and Offence) and 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary