The brilliant comedy “Fawlty Towers” from 1975 had a quote in its sixth episode that survived decades and even today is still known by many – even younger generations  – although they often don’t know where it originally came from. The episode was about a military drill in Fawlty Towers Hotel when Basil Fawlty insults a group of Germans with lots of references to the war despite his own mantra “Don’t mention the war!”.

You can read the whole plot here:

I remember when I was in Germany the first time and some friends had invited a group of friends for an evening of “Fawlty Towers” screenings. They had forgotten about the quote and were hugely embarrassed (because of my presence) when the “Don’t mention the war!” episode was screened. I wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest (or insulted!). In fact, I find Fawlty Towers hilarious and loved that episode.

Anyway, why am I mentioning this? Well the war was this unspeakable thing that must not be mentioned or someone would be insulted.

Until 1980 (!!) contraception was illegal in Ireland and only from 1985 (Imagine!) condoms were allowed to be sold in Ireland without a prescription. That was shockingly late, but Ireland was anything but liberal at that time. Luckily a lot has changed in the 32 years since. …or has it??

Breaking News reported about complaints that were submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) and one of the complaints was about a Lidl ad in which a (real) mother and her two grown up (real) sons go shopping in Lidl. They buy lots of different things and at some stage, the mother asks her sons “Family pack of condoms?”

AIDS/HIV and STD awareness campaigners would be thrilled with the smart mother who can openly advise her sons and is “brave” enough to suggest that they should use condoms, not so a viewer of the ad. He or she thought this was “inappropriate” because the advertisement was broadcast at a time when children may have been watching.

WTF? How do kids get damaged by that question? I hope that viewer is old (and catholic) that would be the only half-acceptable justification for such nonsense and for taking the time to send a written complaint about this non-story.

Luckily (and rightly so) the ASAI rejected the complaint, but it shocked me that they didn’t say that the complaint was ridiculous, instead they said because the ad was not broadcast before 19:00 it was not seen in or around children’s programming. And they also said that they did not consider that the advertising “had addressed children either directly or indirectly” and they were of the opinion that the question at the time specified was “inappropriate”.

This reply is more shocking than the complaint! Because it implies that if the sentence had been asked BEFORE 19:00, then it would or could have been inappropriate. What a mad idea!