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Tyrrells uses poetic license with writer’s image

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn , 04-Feb-2014
Last updated on 04-Feb-2014 at 12:54 GMT

Image of Welsh nationalist poet accidentally selected for Tyrrells English Crisps competition
Image of Welsh nationalist poet accidentally selected for Tyrrells English Crisps competition

Tyrrells Crisps has apologized for inadvertently using an image of a Nobel Prize nominated poet to illustrate a "fleeting look of contempt" for its on-pack competition.

The UK-based chip manufacturer placed the stock image of the stern looking Welsh poet, RS Thomas, to illustrate its competition for which consumers are told they can win £25,000 or “a fleeting look of contempt”, “plus thousands of rather more sensible prizes”.

Photo Credit: Twitter user @ronpaste

The company said it was not aware of who the man illustrating the fleeting look of contempt was at the time.

A case of mistaken identity

The company was alerted to the fact by Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod, a literature and creative writing lecturer at the University of East Anglia. Tyrrells reportedly replied to his cautionary tweet saying: “We are humbled and sorry that we didn't recognise him sooner!

Thanks for pointing it out."

In a statement on the error, Tyrrells said it bought the rights for the photo from an image library that licences and publishes pictures. “We selected the image based upon its fit, the connection with the late RS Thomas was not known at the time and had no
bearing on our decision making process,” it said.

Tyrrells told BakeryandSnacks.com: “We selected the image based upon its fit for our promotion which offers 24 different light hearted prizes such as the ability to ‘win your face on a potato’, ‘win a tattoo of your boss’, ‘win an uncomfortably long handshake’ or £25,000.”

When asked if it had pulled the packs, the manufacturer said: “The promotion has been running for a while now and is in its closing stages with promotional packs now phasing out of the market due to consumer demand.” The image still features on the chip brand's website. 

Fiery crisps, fiery poet

Ronald Stuart Thomas was born in 1913 in Cardiff and went on to train as a priest. He died in 2000 aged 87.

The poet adorning the chili flavored English crisps was known as a fiery nationalist.

Dr Noel-Tod told the Church Times: "My reaction was a mixture of real amusement at the absurdity of it and real anger that a respected poet should suffer such an undignified posthumous fate for the sake of selling overpriced fried potatoes."

"It does seem to me to raise a real ethical question about the casual appropriation of images of the supposedly anonymous dead for jocular commercial purposes," he said. 

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