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BAXTERS MONKEY SOUP AD BANNED; Scots firm accused of racism.

Byline: STEVE McKENZIE EXCLUSIVE

A RADIO advert for Scotland's best-known soup sparked complaints that it was racist and offensive.

The ad featured a woman in the Amazon rainforest telling how her tribe ate nothing but Baxters Soup - except on Sundays when they'd catch a monkey and eat it.

The advert was taken off air after an investigation by the Radio Authority. They were concerned the ad would offend Africans because, unlike the fictitious tribe, the language used was similar to Bantu and Swahili.

Ten listeners complained to the Radio Authority after hearing it on Classic FM, Tower FM and Heart 106.2.

One claimed he was offended the tribeswoman's words were being spoken in an African language.

He said: "She was saying that since a certain man came to the village and introduced the soup everyone has taken to it and hardly ate anything else, except on Sundays when they would eat a monkey.

"I found this advert insulting as people in this part of Africa don't eat monkeys."

Another complainer said: "This makes it sound like Africans are primitive and animal-like."

The Radio Advertisement Clearance Centre, which is responsible for making sure offensive ads are taken off air, investigated the tone of the advert. It concluded most people would treat it as a joke.

The Radio Authority agreed but raised concerns about the use of an African dialect and claimed the language should have been unrecognisable gibberish as normally used in spoofs. Its report said: "We thought the humour was surreal - a send up of a stereotype.

"Although the humour might not appeal to everyone, we did not believe the advertisement was racist or there was any intention to denigrate or insult tribespeople."

Two Swahili speakers on the authority's staff listened to the ad. They confirmed the language was certainly from Bantu and probably Swahili.

An expert in anthropology was consulted and explained how Amazon rainforest tribes are hunter gatherers, while Bantu speakers are farmers.

The report reads: "We thought listeners would not make the connection and would take the advertisement on face value as a joke.

"We acknowledged that Africans and others who understand the linguistic/ anthropological context might be offended."

The Radio Authority partially upheld the conclusion the ad was offensive and had taken it off air.

A spokeswoman for Baxters said: "We are sorry these people did not enjoy the adverts. No offence was intended. We had some good feedback from the campaign and most people seemed to enjoy the adverts and sense of humour."

s.mckenzie@sundaymail.co.uk
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 27, 2003
Words:424
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