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Home > Media

The TFT Guide To... Making Make Poverty History History

17 September 2005

This week, the most arresting television advertising campaign of recent times was kiboshed by watchdog Ofcom. The Make Poverty History ads, replete with sombre-faced (yet, on occasion, slyly pouting) celebrities clicking their fingers to represent the unremarked deaths of children in poverty, have snapped their last. This, according to a shifty Ofcom with downturned eyes, is due to the 'wholly or mainly political object' of the campaign, an aspect which according to regulations requires it to be taken off air. The 530 charities and aid groups which make up the greater part of MPV were understandably, if peaceably, pissed. 'The millions of people who are wearing a white band or taking action as part of a campaign do not see this as a narrow party-political issue,' they said in a statement. 'They see it as the great moral issue of our time.'

Such a veto does smack rather of detaining a blameless (at least where accusations of politicking are concerned) good cause at customs, while a thousand grotty and greed-driven ads laden with frivolous crap and misinformation waltz on through cackling. The most worrying thing is that this may start some kind of hideous chain reaction. What can else can we expect in the wake of Ofcom's decision?


1) Chris Martin's face, always fixed in a winsome expression of earnest guilt-assuaging charitable intent, to be banned. Martin is required to wear a Michael Jackson-style mask at all times, and his hands - usually adorned with the Make Trade Fair logo - to remain under permanent pocket arrest.

2) Anyone caught snapping their fingers or making a loud clicking noise in a public place is to be considered as mounting a political protest, and summarily clubbed unconscious by riot police. Dog clicker-training classes go underground, inspiring lousy tabloid headlines about 'BITE CLUB'.

3) Charities, afraid of falling foul of the Ofcom ogre, tone down their intentionally-shocking television campaigns intended to bring in direct debit donors. Instead of showing unhappy, abused children, the NSPCC ads now show only big bowls of strawberry ice-cream with no children in sight (this could be considered manipulative). The RSPCA follows suit, except with the ice-cream in a slightly less attractive bowl.

4) A ban on the 'Make Poverty History' white bands is implemented. Within days an over-zealous, literal-minded task force swoops on hapless out-patients in white limb casts and neck braces.

5) Finally, with television companies attuned to the new sensitivities of regulators, party political broadcasts are banned, and replaced by classic episodes of Willo' The Wisp. Everyone is happy, except Gordon Brown whose head finally explodes like a great big pumpkin.



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