A relative of a victim of convicted murderer Harold Shipman has spoken out against a DeadHappy advert that featured Shipman to promote life insurance.
As first reported by FTAdviser yesterday (January 24), the life insurer has come under extensive criticism for producing a Facebook advert.
The image, which shows one of Britain's worst serial killers, bears the caption: "Life Insurance. Because you never know who your doctor might be", and features a large photograph of Shipman.
After FTAdviser broke the story, one of the relatives of a victim spoke out on social media.
He said: "As someone whose relative was murdered by Harold Shipman, your latest advert utilising his image is despicable and unacceptable."
Referencing the Advertising Standards Agency, which has taken insurance companies - including DeadHappy - to task for offensive and inappropriate adverts, the relative added: "I hope you enjoy yet another judgement from the ASA and change your practices."
Several financial advisers have told FTAdviser they have reported the advert to the ASA.
Shipman was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 elderly patients in his care. As serial killers go, he has one of the highest body counts in recent history and was suspected of a further 250 deaths, which have never been proved.
He committed suicide during his life sentence in Wakefield Prison in 2004.
As FTAdviser reported, insurance brokers across the UK said they found this "beyond distasteful".
Kathryn Knowles, founder of Cura Financial Services, said it was "beyond despicable" and said she would be reporting it to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Advertising Standards Agency.
A spokesperson from the ASA told FTAdviser: "We’ve received over fifty complaints about this ad. Complainants argue that the use of Harold Shipman’s image is offensive.
"We’ve taken careful note of the serious concerns being raised about this ad and we’re reviewing complaints to determine whether there are grounds for further action."
Yesterday, DeadHappy founder Andy Knott told FTAdviser: "We are called DeadHappy and our strapline is ‘Life insurance to die for’ so we are aware of the provocative (and to some the very shocking) nature of our brand.
"But being provocative is different to being offensive and it is of course never our intention to offend or upset people. It is our intention to make people stop and think. If however you have been personally distressed by this advert, we do sincerely apologise."
However, this has not washed with some in the financial services industry. Lang Cat comms director Mark Locke said: "They should be ashamed. They’re not being provocative.
"The only reason they want people to stop and think is to flog their product. I hope this backfires and people steer well clear."
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