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Sick 'kids in the fridge' advert horror.

A SICK campaign for a soft drink aimed at children was at the centre of a safety storm last night.

The graphic advertisement shows five youngsters with their faces contorted from being pressed against a flat surface.

The slogan reads: "How many kids can you get in your fridge?"

The ad for Tizer Ice is targeted at shopkeepers in the run-up to a multi-million pound TV campaign.

But last night safety experts said the chilling theme could lead to tragedy.

Nine years ago, three little brothers - aged six, four and three - suffocated to death after becoming trapped inside a disused freezer as they played in the yard of their home in the Midlands.

The makers of Tizer Ice say the kids-in-the-fridge ad is intended to be humorous.

The grisly image, they added, would not be used on TV.

Tizer Ice is made by Barr Soft Drinks, Britain's third-largest soft drinks company, which has a distribution depot at Wednesbury in the Black Country.

The firm, which also makes traditional Tizer, Irn Bru and Orangina, has an annual turnover of more than pounds 100 million and it says Tizer Ice is aimed at teenagers.

The kids-in-the-fridge ad appears in colour on the front page of The Grocer magazine - the "bible" for shopkeepers and the retail trade.

It shows four boys and a girl with their faces and hands pressed against a pane of glass, with the slogan: "How many kids can you get in your fridge?"

The ad answers its own question with the words: "As many as you want after our new TV campaign.

"The ads burst on to your screen this summer on ITV, Channel 4, cable and satellite. So whatever you put in your fridge, make sure it's Tizer Ice."

Last night, David Jenkins, product safety manager with the Birmingham-based Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "We think this is an inappropriate promotion in the context of children.

"We know of cases where children have died after being trapped in fridges and it is not good practice to illustrate something which has resulted in fatalities.

"We would be gravely concerned if this image were to be made more widely available."

In March 1990, three boys - Benjamin Dovey, six, his brother Nicky, four, and their half-brother Ryan Broome, three - died after climbing into an abandoned freezer at their home in Clee Hill, near Ludlow, Shropshire.

The freezer, dumped in a horsebox in the yard of the family's smallholding, was an old model with an outside catch which made it impossible to open from the inside.

The boys' tiny huddled bodies were found following a massive search of the surrounding countryside after it was realised they had gone missing.

The inquest heard that fingerprints and boot marks discovered inside the freezer showed the youngsters had frantically tried to claw and kick their way out of the make-shift tomb.

Last night, The Rev Vic Roberts, who helped to conduct the funeral service on the boys, said: "This awful tragedy is still etched on my mind nearly 10 years later. I never want to see three little coffins being brought into my church ever again.

"This soft drinks advertisement would bring back very painful memories for anyone who has lost a child in such circumstances."

At his home yesterday, little Ryan's father, Derek Broome, aged 54, was clearly distressed when asked for his comment by the Sunday Mercury.

Struggling to compose himself, he said: "How could they do that? It's terrible. I don't want to say any more."

Edna Cunningham, for Barrs Soft Drinks, said: "This is a trade advertisement and will not be used in the TV campaign which is still being finalised.

"The Grocer is very unlikely to fall into the hands of children. The ad is intended to be humorous."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Haywood, Bob
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 13, 1999
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