Phones 4U has removed part of its latest press advertising after receiving 35 written complaints.
The advert depicts a middle-aged scoutmaster with the caption: “You might be good with knots. You might be good with children. But there’s no way you’ve got 50 friends in your phone.”
The advertisement will still run in some monthly publications which went to press before the complaints.
Phones 4U marketing director Russell Braterman said: “We didn’t set out to offend anyone. We never suspected the ad would cause a problem.
“It was unfortunate that we chose the scoutmaster character at the same time as the scouts deciding to re-brand themselves which we didn’t know about.
“We want to be really clear that we didn’t want to cause offence.”
Braterman said it is important to push boundaries to get the attention of the youth market.
Said Braterman: “Should you take that risk? Yes. This won’t affect the brand because we decided to pull the ad out of respect for the scout community.”
A Phones 4U spokesperson added: “The campaign is a humorous commentary about people’s obsession with popularity and we are surprised that it has caused offence. It is meant to be satirical and entertaining and is not meant to be taken at literal face value.
“The aim of the campaign is to engage with our customers and reinforce what we’re about as a brand through fun, tongue in cheek advertising.
“The scoutmaster was never planned to be a major part of the campaign and was not in any way an attack on the scout association.
“ To reiterate, we truly respect the time and effort the scout association invest in the youth of today and the difference it makes to many children’s lives. We meant to cause no offence through placement of this ad and intentionally represented an out of date image of a scout leader and used terminology that is not currently used, so as to imply that this was not to be taken literally.”