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Sony pulls Santa-slapping advert

US cable network complains as Father Christmas drugged and tormented

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Sony has been forced to drop its latest ad campaign under pressure from a squeamish US cable TV network.

The controversial series of commercials, intended to promote SonyStyle.com, Sony's online consumer electronics and entertainment store, depict Father Christmas being chloroformed then bundled into the boot of a car. Poor old Santa is then blindfolded and teased by his kidnappers.

The six ads were created by UK agency Young & Rubicam, part of advertising-to-PR empire WPP, which also owns the likes of Ogilvy & Mather and Hill & Knowlton.

We can see Sony's ads going down quite well over here in the UK, but they were clearly too much for US TV executives, who complained just before the campaign was due to air, according to the Wall Street Journal today.

Sony confirmed the decision to pull the campaign, but would not name the cable network who complained. The ad was pulled from that network and from broadcast slots elsewhere, including ESPN, The Discovery Channel and MTV. The reason: Sony is "concerned that consumers might misinterpret the edginess and irreverence of the campaign and may even be offended", said a spokeswoman. ®

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