ASA green light: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings ad (click for full image). Photograph: Channel 4
The advertising watchdog has cleared Channel 4's ad campaign for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, despite more than 300 complaints from members of the public and the Traveller community that it is offensive and racist.
Channel 4's billboard campaign – which features the words "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" printed over images of Gypsy girls and children – also caused sponsor Honda to question its appropriateness.
The ASA received 316 complaints including submissions from the London Gypsy & Traveller Unit and London assembly members Jennette Arnold and John Biggs.
The advertising watchdog dismissed the complaints about the ad campaign – which included the allegation that the word "gypsier" was racist – explaining that the while the ads "might not be to everyone's taste" the campaign has not broken any advertising code rules.
Channel 4 was backed by the ASA, which stated that the imagery and text used in the campaign accurately "reflected the tone and content of the programme".
"We did not consider the ads were likely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen as irresponsible or harmful and will not therefore be taking any further action," the ASA said in a statement.
Channel 4 maintained that people featured in the campaign had all given their consent, were "happy" with it, and that the word "gypsier" was not negative but instead meant the second series offered more insight to the Traveller and Gypsy communities.
The audience for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings dipped on Tuesday night to 4.4 million viewers against ITV1's Brit awards coverage, well down on the 5.7 million that watched the series opener last week.