Claims on Bar Fusion’s Facebook page, for a Christmas event at a bar, viewed on 9 December 2011, featured text which stated CHRISTMAS EVE WITH MIDGETS! FOR THE 1ST TIME IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS THIS CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY WITH OUR VERY OWN XMAS MIDGETS that’s right MIDGETS!!!!!!!!! ENTRY JUST ฃ5 ALL NIGHT. Beneath this text was an image which included the text To you & friends, from Santa’s club. December 24th. XMAS EVE With Our Xmas Midgets.
A complainant objected that:
- the ad, and in particular the use of the word midgets, was offensive to short statured people; and
- the ad was irresponsible, because it reinforced negative attitudes towards short statured people.
Bar Fusion said it was never their intention to cause offence and with hindsight they felt they must apologise for doing so. They said the night and artists were booked by an outside promoter who used the term. They therefore believed it was acceptable to use the term and that it would not cause offence. They said once it become apparent that the ad had caused offence, they removed the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA acknowledged that Bar Fusion did not intend to use the ad in future. However, we noted the ad stated CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY WITH OUR VERY OWN XMAS MIDGETS that’s right MIDGETS!!!!!!!!! and considered the ad portrayed the presence of individuals of short stature as an attraction and source of entertainment. We therefore considered the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence. We also considered the ad promoted negative attitudes towards individuals of short stature and was therefore irresponsible. On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bar Fusion to ensure that ads were prepared with a sense of social responsibility and did not cause serious or widespread offence in future.