An ad for life insurance featuring an image of a man leaning his head against a wall and the strapline “Life insurance to die for” has been banned for trivialising suicide.
The paid-for Facebook post in September for provider Dead Happy also featured an image of a laughing skull, a two months’ free promotional discount code ‘SKULLMAN’ and the text “Sign up for the easiest life insurance money can buy”.
A viewer who believed the ad was alluding to depression and male youth suicide complained that it was irresponsible and offensive.
Dead Happy said it takes mental health “very seriously”, adding that the ad was part of a wider campaign using images designed to stop viewers scrolling past them.
The company said the image of the man was found in an internet photograph library which had been viewed and downloaded many times, but claimed there was no connection to depression or suicide.
Upholding the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was “concerned” about the image of the man, who was alone with his back to the audience.
It said the image, the references to skulls and the strapline “taken together, trivialised the issue of suicide”.
“We considered that, by trivialising the issue of suicide and alluding to it to promote life insurance, the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some people, including those who had been personally affected by suicide, and was irresponsible,” it said.
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again.