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Local newspaper banned from running golliwog advert

A monthly newspaper has been banned from carrying an advert for a local shop which featured a picture of a golliwog.

The advert for the Ginger Pop Shop, an Enid Blyton-themed store at Corfe Castle in Dorset, was placed in the June 2016 edition of the Purbeck Gazette.

It depicted a golly character holding a pint of ginger beer and the text “English Freedom.”

But the Advertising Standards Authority has ordered that the ad must not reappear in the same form after two complainants claimed it was racist.


The Gazette told the ASA that it had checked the legality of the ad and image prior to running it and had been advised that it was within the law.

The paper said it had not directly received any complaints about the ad, but said they would not to run similar ads until the ASA investigation was resolved.

Ginger Pop Ltd said they did not accept that the golliwog represented negative racial stereotypes and claimed the “vast majority” of passers-by were positive about the fact they sold golliwogs in their shop.

They also said that he was “not intended to be seen as a human character but as a magical being, and that many people of all backgrounds had golly toys as children.”

In a ruling published this week, the ASA said the ad breached rule 4.1 of its code, which covers harm and offence.

It said:  “The ASA understood that there had been some local controversy around the tea-towel produced by Ginger Pop for display and sale in their shop, and that the ad was a reference to that.

“However, we did not consider that all readers would be aware of that background, or that such awareness would necessarily impact on their reaction to the ad.

“The Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds, including race.

“We noted that the ad featured an image which was recognisably a golly character.  We considered that many people were likely to view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, and its prominent inclusion in a press ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

“We also considered that the inclusion of the words “English Freedom” in the ad was likely to contribute to that offence, because in combination with the image it could be read as a negative reference to immigration or race. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”


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  • September 22, 2016 at 7:55 am

    If it’s so innocent what’s the ‘English Freedom’ comment all about? Am I missing something with that? Seems pretty sinister the combination of the two.

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  • September 22, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Jeff Jones, I totally agree with you. Having said that, two complaints is hardly ‘serious or widespread offence’. I would imagine the ‘English Freedom’ thing is a response to people complaining about the tea-towel (without, presumably, the message) in the first place, but I still find it slightly disturbing.

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  • September 22, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    They checked the legality of the ad before running it…
    Was the question: We know this is offensive but can we get away with it?

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