UIP takes bum rap for Ali G

Distrib to clear future ads for two years

LONDON — United Intl. Pictures has been given a smack on the bottom by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority, after a cheeky poster campaign for “Ali G Indahouse” attracted 109 complaints.

The offending poster depicts a naked female’s behind, partially covered by the hand of Ali G, the white homeboy character played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

The ASA has demanded that the poster should be taken off billboards. As punishment, it has also ruled that UIP must submit all its print and poster campaigns over the next two years for pre-approval by the ASA.

“The poster clearly caused serious offence to many who saw it, and we have acted promptly to ensure that the image is taken down and stays down,” said ASA director-general Christopher Graham.

“It’s an over-reaction,” said David Livingstone, president of international marketing at Universal Pictures, which financed the film. “I’ve seen ads for shower gels that have more sexual content than this.”

He described the ASA’s demand for pre-approval of future campaigns as no more than “a modest inconvenience.”

This is only the latest hiccup in a marketing campaign which has been dogged by controversy. UIP was previously barred from using TV spots referring to George Bush, U.K. prime minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II, on the grounds that these august personalities had not been approached for their permission.

None of this, of course, has done any harm to the box office prospects of “Ali G Indahouse,” produced by Working Title, which opened strongly in the U.K. last weekend with a $4.5 million gross.

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