Beds, Herts & Bucks

Aylesbury children promised 'wealth' in ad campaign

Marketing campaign in Friar's shopping centre, Aylesbury
Image caption An event was due to be held in Friar's shopping centre in Aylesbury on Wednesday

A marketing company has apologised for a campaign promising "untold wealth" to children who signed up to a website.

Creative agency TFA was running a marketing campaign on behalf of Buckinghamshire University Technical College in Aylesbury.

School children were being handed cards with Illuminati-style symbols as they walked home from school the town.

Police were called about the campaign after parents became concerned about who was behind the cards.

The cards directed children to a website which had a clock counting down to 15:45 BST.

The website said: "Our representatives will be recruiting Junior Cadets at Friar's Square Shopping Centre on Wednesday 19th.

"If you are aged 13-16, come and join us to find out how you can experience a future of untold wealth and prosperity."

It then provided boxes for children to fill in their name, date of birth and email address.

Image copyright TFA
Image caption The agency said the event will no longer be taking place on Wednesday

Darren Isaac, account director at Milton Keynes-based TFA, said: "This is a guerrilla marketing campaign, which by their nature are edgy.

"The intention is to go viral and keep people guessing. The intention was never to offend or upset anybody."

Mr Isaac said the website was a "dummy" which "did not capture any children's information".

He explained the campaign was to publicise the college and its open day on Saturday.

"All we did was hand out a few business cards and the public did the rest," he said.

Insp James Davies from Thames Valley Police said the force was made aware of the cards being distributed to young people in Aylesbury.

"We understand it has caused some concern in the community, but inquiries have concluded there is nothing sinister and we would like to reassure the public no crime has been committed," he said.

In a joint statement, the college and TFA said: "We must be clear that our activities had unintended consequences and have never been made with the intent of creating any alarm or upset - for this we are sorry."

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