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'Distressing' brain surgery advert banned

A TV advert featuring a surgeon carrying out a brain operation while organising a holiday online has been banned following 441 complaints that it was offensive, distressing and insulting to medics.

The ad for holiday website Kayak.co.uk showed the surgeon "poking around" in the brain before typing on a laptop set up on the patient.

After a discussion between the surgeon and a nurse about the ethics of this, the surgeon replied: "Well, I guess you're the brains of this operation" before moving the patient's arms as if he were punching the nurse, while a voice-over stated: "Go to Kayak.co.uk and you could save up to 20pc on your next flight."

Of the 441 complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority, "a number" found it offensive, 25 were concerned that it could be distressing to children and 16 believed it was insulting to surgeons and the medical profession.

Others, including people who had either undergone brain surgery or were about to, and some who had lost family members to brain tumours and other neurological conditions, complained that the ad was "distressing and deeply upsetting".

Kayak acknowledged that "humour could offend at times, saying the ad was "so obviously a parody that it was not offensive", and it "was neither intended to portray real-life drama nor to prey on fear or anxiety."