Advertising censorship


During the first Gulf war, UK authorities banned various TV content as “inappropriate” during a time of war. One item banned was an ad for Cadbury’s Caramel chocolate bars. This ad – a cartoon – showed marching soldier ants and a sexy, languorous female bunny-rabbit trying to tempt the soldier ants away from their regimented marching with the offer of Cadbury’s Caramel (and a sweet Marilyn Monroe persona). The catch-line was “Take it easy with Cadbury’s Caramel”.

Presumably the unstated message – “lazy sex & chocolate is better than marching to war” – was seen as undermining national security. A Ph.D thesis could probably be written about the various meanings of this ad, but you’d have to be paying very close attention to single it out, amongst all other TV output, as “inappropriate”. Who pays such close attention, and do they have a job description?

According to Mojo magazine (February 2006), the BBC banned a number of songs during the first Gulf War, because "they might cause offence". These included "Walk like an Egyptian" (The Bangles), "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (Elton John) and others.