Complaint over advert showing dead body thrown out

The photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici.
The photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici. Photo credit: AP

A photograph of an assassin and his dead victim was fine to use to advertise a photography exhibition, it has been ruled.

The photo, taken by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici, showed Andrey Karlov lying on the floor of an art gallery in the Turkish capital, as his killer Mevlut Mert Altintas held a finger to the sky, shouting, "Don't forget Syria!"

It was used to promote the World Press Photo Exhibition NZ in Auckland, but complainant A Zapisetskiy said the photo "promotes extremism, terrorism and violence and it is well beyond any ethical norms".

The prize-winning photo.
The prize-winning photo. Photo credit: AP

They said there was a difference between "exhibiting a photo depicting terrible real-life events and using that same photo for the advertisement that is available to a wide range of audience".

The photo was the centrepiece of the exhibition, which had toured the world. Mr Ozbilici won the World Press Photo of the Year Award for the striking image.

While a minority of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) board agreed with the complainant, the majority said "it was not gruesome and there was a high public interest".

"The advertisement did not endorse violent behaviour but was reflective of the news media's freedom of expression, did not lend support to unacceptable violent behaviour and was not likely to cause serious and widespread offence."

The ASA noted it even featured on the front cover of the New York Times, putting in front of many more eyes that would have seen it in Auckland.