The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a billboard advertisement showing a crash-test dummy with a baseball bat standing over another on the ground, alongside the pay-off line: "Hard like Mother Russia".

The advertisement, by clothing retailer Soviet, "condones violence as well as irresponsible behaviour", the ASA said in a statement on Friday.

Acting on a complaint, it said the billboard made violence seem acceptable and attractive for impressionable youths who wore or aspired to wear Soviet clothing.

The advertisement was therefore banned and Soviet was required to withdraw it.

The ASA said that in its response to the complaint, Soviet had submitted its advertisement merely depicted the insinuation of an act of violence, and not the act itself. In addition, the characters were crash-dummies.

"The advertisement does not make violence seem acceptable and attractive to any larger degree than a children's cartoon might.

"The depiction therefore does not deem violence as acceptable or attractive in reality, but rather in a manner that is unmistakably comical and unrealistic," the respondent had said.

However, the ASA said what predominated in the advertisement was "the overt violence perpetuated against the dummy". - Sapa