Life insurance firm's joke about Harold Shipman hasn't gone down well

An advert featuring serial killer Harold Shipman has been banned for causing widespread offence and distress.

Life insurance firm DeadHappy put out the following ad: ‘Life insurance… Because you never know who your doctor might be.’

For those who don’t know, Shipman was responsible for killing between 215 and 260 of his patients while he was a GP in Hyde, Greater Manchester.

He was the most prolific serial killer in modern British history.

Since the advert was released on January 23, DeadHappy apologised and said they had taken it down at 8am the next day.

But in its brief time online, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received 115 complaints from the public.

The life insurance firm is now reviewing how it creates and approves ads, and will ‘endeavour to make better informed decisions going forward’.

The ASA said the ads ‘trivialised and made light of the murders committed by Harold Shipman, such that they were likely to cause both serious and widespread offence to those who saw them’.

It added: ‘We further considered that any reference to the murderer in advertising material was likely to be distressing, particularly for those who had lost family members or friends at Shipman’s hands and that, in the context of an ad promoting life insurance, the distress caused was unjustified.

‘We concluded that the ads were not prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and did not comply with rules on issues of harm and offence.

‘We welcomed DeadHappy’s assurance that they would not be repeated.’

DeadHappy founder Andy Knott said: ‘We are sorry. In our attempt to be provocative and make people really stop and think about their need for life insurance, we have made a mistake and for this we apologise.

‘We will now go away and immediately review all of our current and future marketing campaigns to ensure that we learn from this mistake.’

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