A gigantic advertisement for the new ‘Grinch’ film has been branded “racist” for warning drivers they are entering south London.
The 50ft advert, which is wrapped around the entire BFI IMAX building near Waterloo, depicts the film’s titular character staring menacingly at passersby.
Alongside the Grinch’s image, a warning reads: “Welcome to south London. This is your last chance to turn around.”
On the other side of the building, which sits in the middle of a busy roundabout, used by 1.75 million adults a week, a message says: “You are now heading north of the river. Try to contain your excitement.”
James Asfa tweeted an image of the advert and said: “Not finding this funny... snobbery of South London is based on classist and racist stereotypes.”
“Genuinely tried hard not to be a Grinch about this but too much,” he added.
Asfa, a campaigner for South London Citizens who lives in Croydon but works across the capital’s southern boroughs, added to HuffPost UK: “This advert plays into all the worst stereotypes about south London and the tired notion that people won’t want to go there because it’s poor or that it’s diversity is a problem rather a strength.
“I tried hard to see the funny side and not be a grinch but ‘jokes’ like this aren’t harmless. The IMAX should instead be proud of being a south London landmark.”
Others suggested the ad’s message could stop them from seeing the film completely.
Joseph Mattey wrote in a tweet to the film’s official Twitter account this week: “Your advert on the Waterloo IMAX suggesting that North is better than south London prevents me from seeing your film.
“How many people did the ad go through? All of them saying ‘Good work, 50k well spent’ add your own invective. Rubbish.”
Another person said they would consider boycotting the film due to the advert’s “vile anti south London slander”.
The wraparound space on the circular IMAX building is believed to be among the most expensive advertising sites in the country, with a reported price tag of up to £100,000 a week, Campaign reported.
The film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, did not respond to a request for comment, and nor did the BFI or Odeon, which runs the facility.
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