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Babybel offends disabled children with 'mental' slogan

Published: 08 Aug 2012 10:10 GMT+02:00

A marketing campaign sparked outrage at the beginning of the summer when some of their products aimed at children, like Mini Babybel, came with a free toy.

One of the free toys was a stamp, with the slogan written underneath: “Holidays for the mental!”

The French National Union of Associations of Parents of Mentally Handicapped Children, Unapei, called for a boycott of Bel products on Monday, which include Boursin, Leerdammer and Laughing Cow cheeses.

Speaking to local paper le Parisien, Bel director general, Etienne Lecomte, said: “Bel absolutely recognises this message is extremely tactless and apologises to disabled people.

“We’re conducting an internal inquiry to find out who is at the origin of this mistake, even if it is clear they did not intend any harm.

“We’re very sensitive to the problem. We have a high number of disabled people working for us in our factories,” adding that he had also apologised personally to the Unapei.

Christel Prado, president of Unapei, said: “We have to stop using words that don’t correspond to reality.

“Children could feel they have the right to reuse this terminology when talking to a mentally handicapped child.

“We cannot imagine the damage this could cause. On Facebook, a few are already adopting the Babybel “holidays for...” slogan to discriminate against the homosexual community.”

Bel have stopped all production and distribution of the promotional toys in question.
 

Nicola Hebden (news.france@thelocal.com)

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