Advert banned for being unfair to corporate football

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 9 June 2006

I'm not sure how this story didn't immediately come to my attention, but a friend pointed it out to me in an email yesterday, and it gives me the chance to mention Doctor Who, football, the media and the internet and get on my high horse at the same time, and I just can't pass up an opportunity like that to mark the start of the World Cup.

Eighth Doctor Paul McGann recently recorded a voiceover for a TV commercial which shows how a young boy in Malawi makes a football from string and plastic bags, and which compares the cost of sponsoring the child to the money spent on developing a special ball for the World Cup finals, and the £49m sponsorship of the England team.

BACC, an organisation which pre-vets adverts in the UK before they can be shown on TV, has decided that the advert cannot be shown - as it is 'unfair to football'. They objected to the way the advert "suggested that money spent in the development and sponsorship of football was wasted and they could see no good reason for singling out football in this way particularly given that footballers do a lot for charity."

In response Paul McGann is quoted as saying:

Does one laugh or cry? An advert describing how 60p a day might help a child in a developing country is pulled in order to spare the image of corporate sponsorship in a couple of rich ones.

He's also quoted as saying "You couldn't make it up", but I'll pretend he didn't because I'd rather ex-Doctor Who actors weren't going around pretending to be Richard Littlejohn.

Actually I wonder if the charity, World Vision, maybe always had half an eye on the advert getting pulled. It is much cheaper to stream it over the net to those that want to see it, and get publicity by stirring up outrage over the banning of it, than it would be to advertise between ITV's World Cup coverage. Add to that the fact that it isn't clear to me that any network would actually want the advert on their screens at the moment, seeing as nearly all their other clients are pushing adverts with a football related theme.

You can view the advert at World Vision from this page.

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