Dawn French ad cleared by watchdog after title of show draws complaints

Dawn French ad cleared by watchdog after title of show draws complaints

An ad that read “Dawn French is a Huge Twat” – the title of her live show – has been cleared by the advertising watchdog after complaints it was offensive.

The ad for the actor and comedian’s forthcoming UK tour, which featured in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on 4 December, also included a picture of French and text stating: “Back due to phenomenal demand.” Two people complained it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

The poster for Dawn French’s tour. Photograph: ASA/PA

The promotion company Phil McIntyre Live said it was regrettable the ads had offended the two people who complained but the title of the show was humorous and aimed any offence at French herself.

The company said it would not advertise the title of the show in media or locations that would not allow it to use it in full or required it to blank out certain letters. It further explained the term in question was one that was used by many people, including French, in their everyday lives.

The Sunday Times had said it had no comment and would await the outcome of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) investigation but confirmed it had received no complaints about the ad.

The ASA noted that the ad appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine and assessed it with regard to its likely audience in that medium. The watchdog said the word “twat” had the potential to cause offence to audiences but acknowledged it was in the title of French’s live tour.

The ASA said: “We considered that most readers would likely be aware of who Dawn French was and her style of comedy, and that the use of the word would be understood by readers to be self-deprecating and tongue-in-cheek, and it was not, for example, used in a sexual context.

“We understood that the word ‘twat’ written in full was in line with the editorial style of the Sunday Times and that the word reflected similar use of language in the editorial sections of the newspaper where the word had been used in full, without any asterisks.

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“Given the above, we therefore concluded that while some readers may have found the ad distasteful, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to its audience, and concluded that it did not breach the code.”

The ASA ruled no further action was necessary.

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