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Velvet tissue ad escapes ban despite paedophile fear

LONDON - An ad for Velvet Toilet Tissue featuring the line 'love your bum' and directed by Tony Kaye has escaped censure from the TV watchdog, despite receiving 323 complaints from viewers, including concerns that the images in the commercial might stimulate paedophiles.

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The ad is shot in black and white and shows a series of adult bare bottoms with humorous captions including "curvy", "noble" and "firmish". It finishes with the line "love your bum", and features an instrumental version of the 'Alphabet Love Song'. The spot's director, Kaye, is no stranger to controversy with films such as 'American History X' to his name, as well as the recent US government spots linking terrorism to drugs.

The Velvet ad -- the first and last spot created for the brand by Publicis -- broke on February 5. Viewers have variously complained that the ad was offensive because of the nudity and that using bums to advertise toilet paper was in poor taste, especially around mealtimes. Others said that the images might stimulate paedophiles, that they were concerned about children seeing nudity, and a few even complained about the use of the word "bum".

The spot had already been deemed by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre as unsuitable to be shown around programmes made specifically for children.

The Independent Television Commission said that the treatment was "careful and restrained". It said: "Though acknowledging that attitudes towards nudity, however presented, will differ, the ITC concluded that the advertising did not breach its Advertising Standards Code."

Similar complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over the print executions were also dismissed.

Publicis won the £10m Velvet Toilet Tissue ad in September 2002, but the agency resigned the account two months later when Publicis won Procter & Gamble on a worldwide basis, including the Charmin toilet paper brand.

The account will now shift to Fallon. The "love your bum" campaign was a complete break from the previous work by Roose, which featured a snobbish woman, in the mould of Hyacinth Bucket, praising the qualities of Velvet Toilet Tissue.

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