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Fury following Tesco's 'horror colouring book' faux pas

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In another questionable marketing move, following the child’s pole dancing kit debacle in 2006, Tesco have yet again come under fire for selling age-inappropriate items to children, this time for the sale of a horror-themed colouring book.

The colouring book in question, Colour Me Good Arrggghhhh!,  features drawings of scenes extracted from horror films including Silence of the Lambs, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, as well as infamous scenes from Psycho and A Nightmare On Elm Street that have haunted  nightmares for decades.

Chris Tuckwood, of Spondon, Derby, was unsettled to come across the book in in the search for a birthday present for Reece, his seven-year-old grandson. The book was listed on the Tesco website as a product aimed at five to eight year olds, despite clear warnings that the book contained "more blood than you can shake a dagger at."

"It is unbelievable that they can sell such a thing aimed at kids. I don’t think I have to say why it’s unsuitable, that much is obvious," Tuckwood said, before asking "who on earth are they employing that thinks this is okay?"

Many have condemned Tesco in part of a wider battle to ‘protect children’ and help them "retain some innocence in childhood" according to Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums.com, who has emphasised the responsibilities of retailers.

Tesco have attempted to refute allegations of carelessness, claiming that the product was placed on the company’s website by the book’s publisher, I Love Mel.

A spokesperson for Tesco maintained: "We have very clear guidelines for third-party sellers who list items on our website, and are sorry that on this occasion they weren’t followed."

This allegation has been firmly rejected by I Love Mel's Mel Elliot: "The front cover features a drawing from the horror movie Psycho, in which a woman is stabbed to death in the shower. I believe that this one image is a fairly large clue that this is not a book aimed at children," she said.

She added that "It does state on Tesco’s website that my products are aimed at five to eight year olds, which is an error on their part."

The colouring books were also listed on the gift site Prezzybox.com as being suitable for children aged five and over. The company's MD Zak Edwards has since apologised, saying: "We are very sorry for any offence caused by the Colour Me Good – Horror Films Book, which was mistakenly labelled suitable for children aged 5 and over.  Clearly, the book is gruesome and for ages of 16+. It features scary scenes from various gruesome horror films. We acknowledge that this book isn’t suitable for children.

“Whilst working with a well-known national retailer, we made an error, in which we failed to follow our strict guidelines and clearly label correct and suitable age ranges for all products that are sold through these external retailers.

“This mistake came to light in the national press, who rightly picked up upon this error. We apologise for this mistake and will work hard to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The Colour Me Good books are in fact intended for "playful grown-ups", in Elliot’s words, as part of a "contemporary, pop-culture inspired range" that includes Colour Me Good Ryan Gosling and Colour Me Good Ginger.

The colouring book has since been removed from Tesco’s website. 

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