A BAR in South Tyneside has come under fire for advertising an event with a salacious poster encouraging drinkers to dress as disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile.
Life of Riley in South Shields posted the risqué advert on its Facebook page ahead of the fancy-dress night tomorrow.
The poster features a photo of pop star Lady Gaga, covered only by strips of newspaper featuring words such as ‘gangs’, ‘shameless’, and ‘sex’, and with what appear to be whip-marks or cuts all over her body.
The event is called ‘F*** It February’, and the advert states that “anything goes”, encouraging people to dress up as “Santa to Savile and everything in between”.
It also offers revellers in fancy dress the chance to buy two trebles for £5 and shots of alcohol for just £1.
The poster was quickly removed from Facebook, but an event listing on the social networking website carrying the slogan “from Santa to Savile” was left on, though it was later removed.
Bar manager Aidan Eaves apologised and said the advert was taken down as soon as the Mile End Road bar received complaints.
But one outraged Gazette reader said: “I saw the poster on Facebook and was really shocked. I was disgusted that they were encouraging people to dress up as Jimmy Savile.
“They’ve removed it now, so maybe they saw the error of their ways, but they shouldn’t have put it on there in the first place.”
The poster was branded “appalling” by Balance North East, the region’s alcohol office. Director Colin Shevills said: “This poster is appalling and sends out a multitude of inappropriate messages to young people.
“The images and the wording used are extremely offensive and are juxtaposed with offers of cheap alcohol, which we know makes people more vulnerable.
“It is yet another example of wholly irresponsible marketing designed to encourage young people to drink to excess by offering alcohol at pocket-money prices.
“The current self-regulation system to control the amount and content of alcohol advertising clearly isn’t working.
“This is yet further proof of what happens when we let the alcohol industry write their own rules when it comes to the regulation of marketing.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police added: “We are aware of the event and have spoken with the local licensing authority and the organisers. The poster has been withdrawn.
“We don’t want to stop people from enjoying themselves but, at a time when society is trying to educate people about the dangers of drinking alcohol to excess, it is irresponsible to organise events which are aimed at getting people excessively drunk.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for area management and community safety, also felt the poster was inappropriate.
She said: “While the advertising doesn’t appear to breach any licensing regulations, promotions like these which offer cheap alcohol deals encourage people to drink to excess.
“This can leave them in a vulnerable situation, putting their personal safety at risk and that of others.
“While we want people to enjoy a night out, we would encourage them to do so safely and to drink responsibly.”
The poster was criticised by children’s charity, NSPCC because of its reference to the late Savile.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “People need to consider the impact that making light of Savile’s crimes has on survivors of sexual abuse.
“Living with the effects of these crimes can be a daily struggle, and insensitive and inappropriate promotions like this will only make it harder. We hope they reconsider this promotion.”
Mr Eaves said: “We didn’t mean to cause any upset to any charity or person. It was purely for promotional purposes. We took it straight down when we received complaints and want to apologise profusely to anyone who was offended.
“We’re not that sort of bar and would never want to do that.
“We are not trying to encourage binge-drinking. We were just trying to improve our bar and have only just started doing this night.”
When asked about encouraging people to dress as Savile, Mr Eaves added: “The promotion didn’t just come from me. It’s hard to explain. It wasn’t meant to offend anyone, but I can understand where everyone who has taken offence is coming from.
“As soon as it was raised, we took the poster down from Facebook and issued an apology to everyone.
“All we can do is apologise and say that it was a one-off mistake and that it won’t happen again.
“The last thing we wanted to do was tarnish the reputation of our bar.”