Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Asda says sorry over ‘insensitive’ helium balloon advert

Supermarket giant Asda has been forced to apologise after an advert for helium balloons was broadcast in its stores.

The advertisement, which featured a distorted, squeaky voice, was played on the day the parents of Jordan McDowell warned of the dangers of the gas-filled balloons.

Thirteen-year-old Jordan, a year nine pupil at Monkstown Community School in Newtownabbey, was found dead by her mother after inhaling helium from a balloon bought for her birthday last week.

Her heartbroken parents Karen and Gareth spoke out about their loss in a bid to raise awareness about the risks.

“We didn't realise the dangers in it,” Mr McDowell said.

“We just don't want anyone else to go through this, it's been like a living nightmare. We have to keep it together for our other two (children) and we've had lots of support.” The in-store advert has been pulled after a customer complained.

In a statement released last night Asda, which has been accused of insensitivity, apologised for any offence caused.

“We'd like to apologise again for any offence caused,” the statement read.

“Although it was a national advertisement played on air across the UK, in light of recent events we realise how insensitive it was to broadcast it, particularly here in Northern Ireland.

“We’d like to thank the customer for bringing this to our attention and want to reassure him, and all our customers, that we have removed the advert from all future broadcasts.”

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the National Association of Balloon Artists and Suppliers has called for better promotion of the dangers of helium gas.

“It's about getting people educated,” Ada Elliott told the BBC’s Talkback programme.

“The media has a big part to play in this.”

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