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A worker hangs on the side of the geodesic dome roof of the Science World building while performing maintenance in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday September 26, 2012. The latest commercial for Science World British Columbia was barred from TV for being too violent. In the ad, produced by agency Rethink, an irrepressibly cheerful man is kicked in the groin, shot by an arrow, set on fire, and hit by a bus to illustrate how optimists feel less pain. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A worker hangs on the side of the geodesic dome roof of the Science World building while performing maintenance in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday September 26, 2012. The latest commercial for Science World British Columbia was barred from TV for being too violent. In the ad, produced by agency Rethink, an irrepressibly cheerful man is kicked in the groin, shot by an arrow, set on fire, and hit by a bus to illustrate how optimists feel less pain. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Persuasion Notebook

B.C. Science World ad banned for excessive violence Add to ...

You can’t do that on television

Science education has a pretty humdrum image. So it may come as something of a surprise that the latest commercial for Science World British Columbia was barred from TV for being too violent.

In the ad, produced by agency Rethink, an irrepressibly cheerful man is kicked in the groin, shot by an arrow, set on fire, and hit by a bus. The sequence of misfortunes is meant to illustrate the idea that optimists feel less pain; just one of the factoids that visitors to the facility can learn.

The Television Bureau of Canada was not amused. Its Telecaster service, which clears commercials for broadcast to ensure they follow regulations, said that the script was “unacceptable,” according to Rethink.

As a not-for-profit, Science World depends on donated commercial time from TV stations to run its ads. But like all other commercials, the spots require regulatory approval. So the agency is attempting to use the controversy to increase interest, and hopefully drive people to the ad online.

TVB confirmed that Telecaster was unable to approve the script, and said it invited the agency to submit revisions, but none were received.

“Of the various problematic images, the one of the man on fire was the worst offender,” spokeswoman Sylvia Augaitis said in an e-mail.

The Telecaster guidelines for violence in TV commercials note that “even comedic violence can be found to be excessive. For example, hitting someone or something with an object.”

Conquer your fear for charity

It seems all eyes are on the ice buckets these days, but another organization is using a series of online dares to stoke its own fundraising efforts.

The Canadian Cancer Society this month launched the “Fearless Challenge.” It encourages people to start their own pledge drives by promising potential donors that they will do something that freaks them out, for money.

Challenges so far include a man who has promised to eat a whole ghost chili pepper – which is 150 times hotter than a jalapeno – for every $100 raised; and a lymphoma survivor with a fear of falling who has already reached her goal and gone bungee jumping. There are many tarantula-related challenges.

In just over two weeks, the campaign has attracted roughly 270 participants.

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