Clothing advertisement 'food for paedophiles'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 12:00am

A TELEVISION advertisement featuring naked children is being investigated by broadcasting officials.

The advertisement for Chickeeduck children's clothing opens with two young boys wearing only guns and holsters, and carries the slogan: 'God created the best kids' wear. We create the next best.'

It also shows nude children, aged between about three and seven and mostly with their backs to camera, running on a pier, standing in a park and digging.

The Television and Licensing Authority is looking into a complaint from a member of the public that the children in the advert were exploited and that young viewers could get the wrong idea about when nudity was acceptable.

Against Child Abuse, a community group, said the advert was acceptable, if not ideal. But the owner of Chickeeduck, who said the advert was shot with great concern for child welfare, conceded he would not have let his own children take part.

The woman who complained to the authority, a retired nurse, said she objected to children being filmed naked.

'This is food for paedophiles. My concern isn't that it's erotic or offensive, but purely and simply for the children. These children are entitled to their privacy,' she said.

'If any children are watching it, they may be led to believe it's okay to do it, and if somebody said 'take your clothes off, I want to take photographs of you', they may do it.'

The director of Against Child Abuse, Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, said one advert was unlikely to cause any real harm provided the children in it had been treated sensitively during filming.

'It's a difficult one. They're very young children, and when you look at young children with or without clothes on, they're very cute,' Ms Lui said.

She said the fear of arousing paedophiles was not a reason for withdrawing the advert, as, she pointed out, paedophiles were attracted even to fully clothed children.

The owner of Chickeeduck, which is based in the SAR where it maintains 22 outlets, said the advert was harmless fun and posed no threat to children. But he admitted he would not have let his own children, aged three and five, take part.

'To be absolutely honest, if I was approached by a casting executive to ask my children to do the same thing, me being Asian I wouldn't like my children to do it,' Herbert Chow Siu-lung said.

'But it doesn't necessarily mean that when I personally wouldn't let my kids do that, I would stop the creative people using it to convey a message on behalf of the brand. I'm just personally very conservative, but I don't speak for other people who would be willing to let their kids have some fun.'

Mr Chow said he did not believe child viewers would start to think all public nudity was acceptable.

'I really wish people will take this with a light-hearted approach because we're not showing children running around public toilets or shopping malls.

'We made it very clear that all the important parts have to be covered, and where appropriate we show the backs of the children rather than their front. We treated the whole thing very carefully.'

Western children rather than Asians were used in order to reflect Chickeeduck's 'European style', Mr Chow said.

'We could have had kids fully dressed running around in nice clothes, but we've always been out there doing something different,' he said.

The advert, shot in Malaysia, is being shown in the SAR at the moment but may later be broadcast on the mainland.