British life insurance firm Dead Happy is copping flak after it featured a serial killer in its latest adverts to get people to sign up to its insurance policies.
The offending ad features an image of the notorious Harold Shipman, a British GP who was convicted of killing 15 of his elderly patients but was suspected of killing as many as 250 people.
Shipman was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000, however hanged himself in jail four years later.
Dead Happy’s ad, which first circulated on Facebook, comes with the caption: “Life Insurance. Because you never know who your doctor might be”, and features a large photograph of Shipman.
It’s reported that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority is investigating the ad to see if it has breached any rules (other than good taste!)
Although clearly intended as a joke, not everyone was seeing the funny side, particularly victims’ families and the financial industry generally.
As reported on the UK’s FT Adviser, insurance bosses have called the advert “distasteful” and goes beyond the “shock factor”.
Another said: “While there is a small tang of dry humour there (somewhere) it is distasteful”.
“That is so very wrong. You can’t put that out in public,” said another, before adding: “Shall we have the Yorkshire ripper on next?”
Another said: “Dead Happy has run some great campaigns which have seemed a ‘little’ controversial in the past but with this one, I fear they have crossed the line.”
However, Dead Happy CEO Andy Knott defended the ad, telling FT Adviser: “We are called DeadHappy and our strapline is ‘Life insurance to die for’ so we are aware of the provocative (and to some the very shocking) nature of our brand.
“But being provocative is different to being offensive and it is of course never our intention to offend or upset people. It is our intention to make people stop and think. If, however, you have been personally distressed by this advert, we do sincerely apologise.”