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WKD ad is third in three weeks accused of homophobia

LONDON - An advertisement for the alcopop WKD is to be taken off the air because of complaints that it might encourage homophobic bullying.

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According to reports, the commercial is being suspended indefinitely by the Independent Television Commission after complaints.

In the spot, a group of footballers are teasing a man standing in a changing room. They mockingly urge him to look at the bottom of his foot and, as he leans back, he puts his hand on his hip and the other players laugh at him. Two shaven-headed men then enter the changing room and appear to leer at the man.

A second execution, which shows a woman arriving home at her flat to find her boyfriend's friends dressed in pinnies and feather dusters camping it up, has also received complaints.

WKD's advertising is handled by Leicester-based Big Communications. The brand is part of Beverage Brands' stable of drinks, which also includes the Woody's range of drinks and Caledonian Clear mineral water.

It is the third ad in as many weeks to draw the ire of the gay community. The ITC is also investigating an ad for Virgin Mobile that shows the singer Wyclef Jean hesitant to pick up a bar of soap in a prison shower. The internet services company Yahoo! has also been forced to re-edit an ad that showed a camp-looking man eyeing up a man who has been tied naked to a tree by his friends as part of a stag celebration.

It is not the first time WKD's advertising has been in trouble. In August, the Advertising Standards Authority banned a poster for the drink that showed a naked man wearing a raincoat, with a bottle of WKD superimposed over his crotch. The ASA deemed the ad to be pornographic and offensive.

However, it is unlikely to stop the brand from tapping controversial advertising. It has shown more than 200% growth over the past year. The brand first used television advertising in 2001.

In a report in the Independent on Sunday, a spokesman for WKD said: "The changing room concept in the latest WKD TV advertising campaign is not intended to cause offence in any way. It conveys 'lads having a laugh', demonstrating the personality of the drink."

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