No2ID cleared over barcode Hitler moustache on photo of Blair
A full-page anti-ID card advert that appeared in the national press portraying Prime Minister Tony Blair with a Hitler-style barcode moustache was not offensive, the UK's advertising watchdog has ruled.
The ad for the No2ID non-partisan anti-ID card lobby group showed a close-up photograph of Blair with a barcode on his upper lip and text underneath it saying "ID cards have worked well in Europe before". (See the advert here.)
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received eight complaints about the advert saying the barcode on Blair's lip made him resemble Hitler and that the portrayal of a public figure as Hitler was offensive.
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The photograph of Blair had been retouched to make it look like a 1930s portrait and the layout was designed to echo the Nazi era. However No2ID said the advert was not meant to portray Blair as Hitler but to be a comparison of Blair's and Hitler's policies.
The lobby group said the advert contained an implicit claim that ID cards were useful to the implementation of Nazi policies across Europe during World War II, that ID cards had been used to control populations in occupied Europe and were closely associated with the process of sorting victims for concentration camps.
No2ID argued that the intention of the advert was to encourage discussion by the general public of the civil liberties implications of ID cards, and that while it may have been insulting to Blair, it was not offensive.
The Guardian newspaper, which carried the advert, said it believed the photo did not make a serious comparison between Blair and Hitler but highlighted a particularly contentious government policy.
The ASA agreed and in its ruling said: "We considered that, although the ad may have been distasteful to some, it was unlikely to be seen as making a serious comparison between Tony Blair and Hitler but instead as highlighting a lobbying group's opinion that ID cards should not be introduced because of the threat to civil liberty they posed. We concluded that, as such, the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence."