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Tattoo lover taking aim at coffee firm Kenco for ad 'linking body art to gang culture'

By David Young

A Northern Ireland tattoo-lover has criticised a multi-million pound advertising campaign which he claims stigmatises people with visible tattoos.

Bangor chef Chris Dalzell has a passion for body art and sports a tattoo of the Belfast Telegraph's landmark clock in Royal Avenue on his leg - one of many images of Northern Ireland icons he proudly displays on his body.

However, the 31-year-old said he is upset at coffee giant Kenco's new, hard-hitting ad campaign. The 'Coffee vs Gangs' campaign shows a young boy fleeing tattooed gang members in a tough district of Honduras to become a coffee farmer.

Kenco said the ad campaign helps young people in the central American country find decent jobs in the coffee industry, preventing them being sucked in by gangs who have made the small country the murder capital of the world. But Chris claims the ad suggests everyone with tattoos is some kind of gangster.

Chris, who also has tattoos of George Best, and Julius Caesar's motto 'Veni, vidi, vici' inscribed over his left eye, has launched a social media campaign to get the Kenco campaign taken off the air.

"People are trying to make tattoos more acceptable, yet people are finding it difficult to get jobs if they have visible tattoos," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Since he began to get tattooed a couple of years ago, Chris has noticed people reacting to him differently.

Recently, he went into his local Indian restaurant to pick up an order.

"The staff all looked at me dead weird, and all left the restaurant through a door into the kitchen, with one fellow left behind to give me my meal.

"The staff member - who had been brought up in Northern Ireland - said the others all thought that I was a gang member, and they were all scared. That's why they all left."

"When I'm in shopping centres I get looks, people taking second glances, judging me," Chris said.

But Chris said once people take time to get to know him, they change their perception and start to warm to him.

"It's 2017. Having a tattoo doesn't make you a bad person. Ever since I was young, I've always wanted tattoos," he said. "I like the fact that you are able to do something different with your own body and express how you feel.

"I've a nine-month-old daughter who's had nothing but trouble since she was born - heart problems and cow milk allergies. So I've a tattoo on me that represents my daughter: things that mean something to me ... that mean that much to me that I want to take them to the grave with me. I just think Kenco could have done their ad in a different way."

On his Facebook page, Chris has issued a plea for support to get the 'Coffee vs Gangs' campaign removed.

"Get on to my page, start liking and sharing please. Got to make this public and get the advert removed," he wrote.

Kenco could not be reached for comment last night.

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