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Royal Mail identity theft advert is banned

A Royal Mail ad intended to raise awareness about identity theft has been banned over the risk that it could cause unjustifiable fear and distress to viewers.

The video ad, seen on Twitter on July 27, and the video on demand version seen on ITV Player on August 9, showed a gang of men in balaclavas with baseball bats entering a bank and shouting: ‘This is a robbery.’

The film showed a female member of staff being grabbed repeatedly by the shoulder and the wrist and asked her full name and date of birth and other customers asked similar questions about their personal identity, passwords and log-in details.

Throughout the scene the members of the public, including a child, were shouted at aggressively by the assailants, appeared scared and some were crying.

The Royal Mail advert shows a group of masked men bursting into a bank before they target customers 

The film, which was designed to highlight a 'serious and growing crime' of identity theft, shows a balaclava-wearing man demanding from a female member of staff that she gives up her person details 

The film, which was designed to highlight a ‘serious and growing crime’ of identity theft, shows a balaclava-wearing man demanding from a female member of staff that she gives up her person details 

As the masked men go around asking customers and staff for sensitive information, others watch on in horror 

As the masked men go around asking customers and staff for sensitive information, others watch on in horror 

This man is pictured handing over a wad of £20 notes to the group of men - designed to represent identity thieves 

This man is pictured handing over a wad of £20 notes to the group of men – designed to represent identity thieves 

Text at the end of the ad stated ‘Let’s beat identity fraud’ accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and the text, ‘The future in safe hands’.

Seven viewers complained the ads were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence.

Royal Mail said the ad was created to alert customers to the seriousness of identity theft by likening it to that of a bank robbery. 

One of the men in balaclavas then scrolls through somebody's iPad, seemingly after personal information to exploit  

One of the men in balaclavas then scrolls through somebody’s iPad, seemingly after personal information to exploit  

Royal Mail said the ad was created to alert customers to the seriousness of identity theft by likening it to that of a bank robbery

Royal Mail said the ad was created to alert customers to the seriousness of identity theft by likening it to that of a bank robbery

Seven viewers complained the ads were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence.

Seven viewers complained the ads were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence.

A petrified woman is depicted lying on the floor as the identity thieves go around demanding personal information from people 

A petrified woman is depicted lying on the floor as the identity thieves go around demanding personal information from people 

One of the masked men holds baseball hat is pointed towards the head of the female member of staff

One of the masked men holds baseball hat is pointed towards the head of the female member of staff

A terrified child is comforted by her father and watches on as the intense scenes unfold around her 

A terrified child is comforted by her father and watches on as the intense scenes unfold around her 

Text at the end of the ad stated 'Let's beat identity fraud'

Text at the end of the ad stated ‘Let’s beat identity fraud’

The harrowing scenes then fade out to the Royal Mail logo and the text, 'The future in safe hands'

The harrowing scenes then fade out to the Royal Mail logo and the text, ‘The future in safe hands’

It said the level of violence in the ad was proportionate in light of its purpose and was not excessive.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it understood Royal Mail and ITV’s view that the ad served to highlight a serious and growing crime and to assist customers to find information to protect themselves.

‘However, we considered that the overall presentation of the ads, as seen by the complainants, was excessively threatening and distressing to the extent that it overshadowed the message the ad intended to convey,’ it said.

‘We concluded the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to viewers, in particular to victims of violence, without a justifiable reason.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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