Hair removal company 'uses photo of a terrorist' in advert

The firm says it was an accident, and they chose him for his hair rather than his history

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A Turkish company has reportedly used a photograph of al-Qaeda's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in an advert for hair removal. The photograph shows the man alleged to be behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with his chest and back hair showing above a wide-necked white T-shirt. The text roughly translates as "The hair will not go away if you just wait for it to happen".

The story was reported by the BBC, which drew it from the Daily Sabah in Turkey. It highlighted that the photograph was distributed widely after the alleged al-Qaeda leader was captured in 2003 and sent to Guantanamo Bay prison. The cosmetics company came across it, and decided he would make a good face for Epila, designed to get rid of unwanted body hair.

The firm told the Hurriyet Daily News that it had been a mistake, and that they had no idea who the man was when they selected the photo used in popular Turkish memes. They chose him because of his body hair rather than his terrorist links.

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Complained-about adverts

In this instance it seems that the advert was simply the result of an unfortunate mistake. However, it's not the first advert to shock. Here are the top five.

1. Earlier this year, an advert for Paddy Power became the most-complained-about advert of all time. It showed the athlete Oscar Pistorius mocked up as an Oscar statue, promoting a special offer which allowed people to bet on whether he would be found guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, and get their money back if he was found not guilty.

It used the phrase 'money back if he walks." The advert had been withdrawn even before the Advertising Standards Agency launched an investigation, by which time it had received more than 5,200 complaints and sparked a petition signed by 120,000 people.


2. The second-most-complained about advert is a far less shocking one, run by KFC in 2005 and featuring people singing with their mouths full. Surprisingly this display of poor table manners earned it 1,671 complaints - although the ASA found nothing wrong with the advert.

3. Next in line was Paddy Power again, for an advert showing a blind footballer kicking a cat by accident. It received 1,313 complaints as being offensive to blind people and cruel to animals - although the ASA disagreed and did not ban it.

4. In 2009 the Christian Party issued an advert which declared there was definitely a God, so people should join the party and enjoy their life. The ASA received 1,204 complaints from people who felt it was offensive to atheists - but they disagreed.

5. In 1995 The British Safety Council ran an advert showing the Pope in a hard hat, with the strap line 'The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt always wear a condom.' The ASA received 1,192 complaints that it was offensive to Roman Catholics, and the complaints were upheld.

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