Okay, Okay, so the headline is fake news, but it certainly captures our mood at the moment.
In fact, there is quite an interesting story here. The image on the right comes from an ad for a recent Halloween event called "Terror in the Trees" held at Beamish Hall in County Durham. The image was on a poster at Central Station in Newcastle upon Tyne. This might be considered as untargeted media that would be seen by anyone, including children. However the residents of Newcastle are gritty northerners, for whom the significance of Halloween is that marks the date from which it is considered socially acceptable to go outside in a long sleeved shirt, and not just a T-shirt. Safe to assume that these people are "well 'ard", and not easily spooked.
Nevertheless one person - yes, one person - complained that the ad was distressing for children and challenged whether it was likely to cause fear or distress. The ASA's report does not record whether the complainant was actually a soft southerner enrolled at Durham University and passing through the station for a night out in The Toon, but we have our suspicions.
Fortunately for Beamish Hall, they were able to fall back on the fact that they'd taken advice from CAP Copy Advice, who'd told them it was unlikely to be in breach. Council agreed and said that although the clown had a sinister appearance, he didn't have a threatening facial expression, violent body language or gory wounds. Council concluded the image might not be to everyone's taste, it was unlikely to cause fear or distress for adults or children. Well, no self-respecting Geordie adult or child anyway.
Compare this, however, with the image on the left, which is also from a poster promoting a Halloween event, this time at Norfolk Dinosaur Park in 2015. This was placed at various locations around the county and attracted 23 complaints, proving that even by local standards, this character is not Normal For Norfolk. In this case, however, the advertiser had not had the foresight to consult with CAP Copy Advice, and the complaints were upheld, even though the advertiser had already removed the posters from 12 out of 34 locations, despite the difficulty of seeing a logical distinction between these images.
We'll leave it to you to decide which one is Boris and which one is Jeremy, but even if you don't suffer from coulrophobia, both these clowns are pretty terrifying.
Beamish Hall Ltd said they had taken into account that there was no close-up of the clown's face and considered the content was not inappropriate for an ad which promoted a Halloween event. They said they had taken advice from the CAP Copy Advice team.