Barclays bee sting ad banned by ASA

A television advertisement by Barclays Bank showing a man suffering an allergic reaction to a bee sting has been withdrawn, following a number of complaints.

The ad showed a man being stung in the mouth by a bee or a wasp that had climbed into a drinks can. He ran to a nearby lake to cool down and his face was shown to be visibly swollen. He then fell into the water, emerging covered in weeds and mud and howling in pain. The man then approached a restaurant, where people began to scream at his appearance.

The ad finished with police shooting the man with a tranquiliser, before he was arrested and a voiceover said: “Statistically, you’re more likely to be arrested than change your bank account”.

The Advertising Standards Authority received over a hundred complaints about the ad, with the majority of people claiming that the ad was offensive to allergy sufferers because “it made light of a potentially fatal situation”.

Nearly a hundred viewers claimed to have suffered personal distress from seeing the ad, because they or their loved ones, suffered from allergies. More than 20 viewers also said that they, or people they knew, had nearly or actually died from the same adverse reaction depicted in the ad.

The ASA upheld the complaints and said that the ad should not be shown again, due to a “significant number of viewers” being “clearly distressed” by seeing the ad.

Seven viewers also complained that their children had been frightened by the commercial, while 12 viewers complained that the ad was “horrific”, due to the man’s appearance.

These complaints were not upheld by the ASA, nor were seven other complaints that the way the man was photographed by police at the end of the ad was reminiscent of ‘happy slapping’ attacks or alleged solider activity in the Iraq war.

Barclays said that it “very much regretted” that the commercial had caused distress or offence to a number of viewers.

The company said that the ad had intended to show an exaggerated sequence of different events, which ended with the hero being mistaken for a ‘Swamp Thing’ rather than a man.

Barclays said that the intention had always been to create an “amusing and light-hearted” commercial, not to upset or offend viewers.

The advert had already been pulled, Barclays said, and they had decided not to run it again.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

09 December 2013
BBC News Defends Mandela Coverage
The director of BBC News has defended coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela, following complaints from 850 viewers that too much of the 10 o'clock bulletin on Thursday night was devoted to the former South African leader and not enough to the severe storms that battered the east coast of England.
07 March 2013
Bonnie Tyler Takes UK To Eurovision
'80s pop icon Bonnie Tyler will represent the UK at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. The 61-year-old Welsh singer is best known for her 1983 hit, Total Eclipse Of The Heart. She said she was "honoured" to be asked, adding: "I promise to give this everything that I've got for the UK!" she said in a statement.
21 February 2013
Evangelical TV Shows Criticised For 'Risking Lives'
Charities have condemned religious TV shows that are encouraging viewers to believe they are cured of life-threatening illnesses through the power prayer.
10 May 2012
Ofcom Investigate The Wright Stuff
Ofcom is investigating Matthew Wright’s Channel 5 daytime show over a survey that used the words "mong", "spaz" and "retard". The media regulator is investigation show the Wright Stuff to see to see if the poll was a breach of broadcasting rules relating to harm and offence.
16 November 2007
BBC Admits 'Crying' Error In Quintuplet Report
The BBC has been forced to backtrack after allegations that the broadcaster added the sound of crying babies to a news report featuring premature quintuplets on News 24. Despite the fact that the babies - born to a 29 year old Russian woman - had respirators in their mouths, the sound of crying could be heard at the start of the report.